Westerville News & Public Opinion

Westerville seeks residents' views on 15-year parks plan


More than 1,000 Westerville residents have weighed in on what they would like to see happen in their parks and recreation facilities in the next 10 to 15 years, but city leaders want more.

The Westerville Department of Parks and Recreation plans to finish an updated master plan this summer, and two public meetings are planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday and next Thursday, Jan. 30 and 31 at the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave., to garner more feedback from residents.

"Even if people have attended focus groups or interviews or intercept surveys, we want everyone to attend -- even if they've participated in part of the process before," said Westerville Parks and Recreation Director Randy Auler. "We really value citizen input because that is the basis for the plan."

During the meetings, which should last between an hour and 90 minutes, parks and recreation officials will go over some of the suggestions they've received about the plan so far. Residents will have the chance to offer feedback on those suggestions and to provide additional ideas, Auler said.

After the meetings, the city will work to gather more feedback on the plans by sending out surveys to 4,000 households, Auler said.

"If you get one of those surveys, please do that too," Auler said. "That will give us some statistically valid information."

For residents who would like to provide input but are unable to attend the meetings or who don't receive survey forms, the survey will be posted on the city's website, westerville.org, near the end of February.

Following that, the city will put together some of what may be included in the plan and present that to the public in late March or early April, Auler said.

Parks and recreation department officials intend to have the new plan ready to present to City Council before its summer recess, Auler said.

Throughout the process, Auler said, the city wants to involve the community as much as possible, including people who may not use the parks, leisure trails or recreation facilities.

"The key to this plan is citizen engagement and what the community really wants in laying out that roadmap for the next 10 to 15 years," he said. "We want to really reach out to the community as a whole."