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Planners pursue a parks plan

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Residents who frequent the Village skate park have said they would like to improve the facility by adding a new skate bowl. Some who use Gaunt Park have suggested a dog park there, as well as new lights for sporting events. Others suggest that the Bryan Community Center campus be equipped with a permanent outdoor performance space, an ice skating rink in the winter, and more parking. These discussions over the past several years have led Village Council to designate a revision of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan as a 2011 goal. And the Village Comprehensive Land Use Plan, completed last year, also states that the Parks and Recreation Master Plan needs to be updated.

To that end, over the summer Village Planning Commission began an update of the parks inventory in Yellow Springs, with the aim of eventually spending the over $300,000 in the Village general fund earmarked for park improvements. While the Village considered hiring a consultant to help update the parks plan, Planning Commission is now taking a first crack at completing some initial steps. The Village might still eventually hire a consultant to finish the plan, and Council put $50,000 in the parks budget this year to do so, if needed. But if money and time is spent completing it, the Village “ought to try and follow it,” Village Manager Mark Cundiff said in a recent interview.

The most recent parks master plan was created in 1998, and includes about $200,000 worth of improvements recommended at the time, only some of which have since been completed. While the $185,000 train station was built at Hilda Rahn Park, and the $70,000 skate park was installed at Bryan Center, and nearly $100,000 was used to renovate the Gaunt Park pool, the playground planned for Duncan Park, the Ellis park restrooms and the permanent concession facility at Gaunt park were never built. Yet opinions circulate about how underutilized Beatty Hughes park adjacent to Kieth’s Alley is, and how Ellis Park should be preserved as a quiet place for meditation. What does the community want now, and how much does it want to spend on projects proposed 10 years ago or ideas generated since then? These are the questions Cundiff hopes a new parks master plan will elicit from the community to guide the Village budget.

Currently, the parks master plan counts Ellis, Gaunt, John Bryan, Hilda Rahn, Bill Duncan, Fair Acres and Beatty Hughes parks and a parcel at U.S. 68 and Allen Street open park space, totalling about 50 acres for the entire village. That already exceeds the 1990s National Recreation and Park Association standard of 10 acres of park land per 1,000 residents. But the village also has private property, such as the Antioch College golf course, both Mills Lawn and Yellow Springs High School campuses, Glen Helen and John Bryan State Park, all of which are relatively close to town and widely used for recreation purposes. A strong plan will incorporate the potential sharing of all the Village’s resources to meet everyone’s needs, Cundiff said.

Once Planning Commission has inventoried current park land, other steps will be needed to update the standard for the number of ball fields and swimming pools per capita a community should be expected to support. Then the Village government will look at its funding sources to determine what funds are available. Cundiff anticipates perhaps a community charette or forum, maybe followed by a community-wide survey to prioritize the needs.

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