Whitehall News

Whitehall turns to residents to shape master plan for parks

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Whitehall wants to know what residents want most from the city's parks and recreation department.

The city will host two public meetings and will accept online input concerning the drafting of a master plan for the department.

"Ultimately, it's the community's park master plan," said Whitehall Parks and Recreation Director Steve Carr.

"We have limited resources and we want to spend those resources where our residents most want it," Carr said.

Public meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 17, at the activity center at Whitehall Community Park, 402 N. Hamilton Road.

The city also will accept surveys submitted on paper and online.

Paper copies of the survey are available at Community Park and at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.

The survey is posted at the city's website, whitehall-oh.us.

Surveys must be completed by May 30.

The master plan will be the first for the city's parks and recreation department, as an earlier effort was undertaken but not finished, Carr said.

"This will be a guide for our direction for the next five to 10 years," Carr said.

In a related matter, the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Commission issued a special report April 25 to Whitehall City Council to "set the record straight" and detail the accomplishments and goals of the department.

Commission member Greg Thurman said May 5 the report was specifically in answer to criticism Mayor Kim Maggard levied last month at Carr concerning the department's direction.

Carr is under the purview of the Parks and Recreation Commission rather than the mayor, according to the city charter, and the commission wanted to make clear to City Council and the administration the department's accomplishments and goals, Thurman said.

"We wanted to set the record straight after some of the negativity created by (Maggard's) comments," Thurman said.

Carr and Maggard both have since publicly stated their intention to move forward in improving the city's parks and recreation infrastructure and programming.

The report alludes to the goal of completing the department's master plan in 2014 as well as other improvements to be made during the year.

They include the installation of safety mats at park playgrounds, new benches and signs at the disc golf course at Community Park, a new fire pit at the senior center, and new fences and swings at Robinwood Park.

The Summer Playground program will be expanded from six to eight weeks this year, according to the report, and the Music in the Park summer concert series will continue.

The commission also will help establish a set of basic, common guidelines for Whitehall youth programs, including those of the city and privately operated programs, according to the report.

The report reiterated past accomplishments since Carr became director in 2010, including restroom improvements and a new shelter house at Lamby Lane Park and amphitheater renovations at John Bishop Park.

Infrastructure upgrades also were made at the senior center and Community Park.

"This is a good commission of experienced members who grew up in these parks and have a heartfelt connection, and we have a great director in Steve Carr," said Thurman, adding the commission will consider making regular "state of the parks" reports in the future.

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