New Albany News

New strategic plan

Parks board looking to improve programming, facilities

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New Albany Parks and Recreation officials recently set priorities and objectives in a strategic work plan.

"It's a five-year strategic plan that has objectives that are short term, objectives that are long term and a combination of both," said Dave Wharton, New Albany parks director.

The parks board started work in January on the strategic plan. The final summary will be reviewed in April, Wharton said.

During the strategic plan work session, the board decided the top priorities are programming, facilities and working with the community and local organizations.

The greatest challenges are funding, resource management and connectivity between park facilities and neighborhoods, board members said.

The board named four steps to improve programming:

* Conduct a community survey

* Consider partnerships to implement survey feedback

* Work with the New Albany-Plain Local School District to provide opportunities

* Implement short-term programs in 2013 in conjunction with existing activities.

The board named five steps to improve facilities:

* Improve fields annually, based on greatest need

* Minimize scheduling conflicts to alleviate overuse of parking areas and restrooms

* Work with the school district on scheduling on the high school's new artificial turf field

* Investigate year-round domes and partnerships for year-round use of fields or parking areas

* Identify future playground locations.

The plan includes three steps to improve communications, which were to improve the website; participate in New Albany, Plain Township and New Albany-Plain Local school publications; and find other partners for cross-promotional opportunities.

Wharton said the board would find ways to implement the plan in the next three to five years and review it again in 2015. He said the board needs to find new funding sources.

"We're putting a priority on items and determining revenues for projects, looking at sponsorships or talking to youth leagues which might be willing to pitch in on part of the projects," Wharton said. "It's an ongoing process. We're always looking for ways to improve the facilities and make things better for the community."

The district currently collects revenue from a 0.75-mill permanent levy that was approved when New Albany Parks and Recreation was formed as the New Albany-Plain Local Joint Park District in 1999. It generates $500,000 annually.

Voters twice denied the parks board's request for a 1-mill permanent replacement levy that would have generated $912,000 annually. The levy request was rejected in May and November 2011.

The parks board paid Tedd Hardesty of the Edge Group and John Millen of the Reputation Group $2,500 for the strategic plan.

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