Local residents may be able give their parks and recreation needs and expectations during a master plan update later this year.

Local residents may be able give their parks and recreation needs and expectations during a master plan update later this year.

Parks and Recreation Director Tony Collins provided a presentation to council's Committee of the Whole meeting on April 23, outlining the process for updating the department's comprehensive master plan from 2006 .

An agreement for the update is scheduled to be considered by council on May 14, with the project launching in June and completed in time for the city's appropriations process in November.

Collins said the update would provide answers to questions such as whether Gahanna should continue to invest in recreational trails and what's next for aquatics in Gahanna and what's next for the Gahanna Swimming Pool.

If council approves an agreement for the update, PROS Consulting would conduct two public forums. One would introduce the projects and goals and gain input for the community's vision and core values for the parks and recreation system.

The other forum would involve a final briefing and input opportunity on the draft plan.

PROS Consulting would also work with CJI Research Corp. to perform a random, scientifically valid community needs analysis household survey to quantify knowledge, needs, unmet needs, priorities and support for system improvements, including facility, programming, parks, trails and open space development needs.

The 2006 Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Master Plan adopted by council was the culmination of 15 months of gathering information and doing assessments and intense planning.

Collins said council, the administration and the parks department have used the document to guide strategic planning, tactical actions and resource allocations.

More than 780 Gahanna citizens participated in the 2006 process via a steering committee, public workshops, focus groups, stakeholder interviews and a citizen survey.

"We looked at operating and maintenance standards," Collins said. "The plan gave a series of recommendations and 94 different tasks to accomplish as a city."

He said the department has been successful in meeting the needs established in 2006 by increasing the length of recreational trails from one to 12 miles, with four of nine sections completed on the Big Walnut Trail.

In addition, 12 new playgrounds have been developed with six new or updated restroom facilities. Creekside Plaza & Marina also provided a location for special events.

When the department annually establishes goals, Collins said, the plan is reviewed.

"The master plan helped us establish a clear vision," he added.

That stated vision is "to enhance and preserve parks and recreation services, lands and facilities through high standards and innovation that positions Gahanna as a leading community and a great place to live, work and play."

"I've been working with the consultant on what's the next step," Collins said. "Questions like 'What are the community's priorities?' and 'What standards do we provide?' need to be answered."

He said the six-year-old plan has been a very successful tool, but it's time to update it.

Council member Brandon Wright asked Collins if the master plan would be used as a "breathing document," if council invests in it.

Collins said he refers to the plan with every item he brings to council for funding.

In the parks and recreation profession, Collins said, the definition of the standard differs from one person to another.

"We need to go back and see what is that standard and how do we move forward," he added.

Collins said the question he's asked the most involves whether Gahanna will build a community recreation center.

"In terms of financial reality, it never rose on the priority list," he said. "It definitely needs discussed and asked, 'What do you want to pay for?'"