City officials receive public input on parks and recreation master plan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

SALISBURY — Residents turned out Wednesday evening to add their input as the city drafts a parks and recreation master plan.

The open house at 1 Water St. was a chance for residents to learn about parks and rec opportunities in the city, tell city officials what they would like to be added in the city, as well as complete a survey on what facilities they currently use.

The city is working with LandDesign, a national planning firm, and The Kelly Group, a park planning consultant.

Nick Aceves, the city’s parks and recreation director, said the current master plan is about 9 years old. A master plan can provide a road map and allow his staff to apply for large grants, he said.

“I’ve been doing this 20 years and worked in multiple communities, and a lot of the needs are the same,” Aceves said. “Some communities have more of one thing, maybe more pools, and some may have more parks or more indoor facilities. Some of the things that we’ve seen that people are interested in to add to our repertoire are things that we’ve heard about in the past. This will just give us a clearer vision on how feasible that is.”

Residents suggested connecting greenways, having outdoor venues and having restrooms in parks.

Brad Chambers, founder and principal of The Kelly Group, said it is unusual for a city not to have public restrooms at parks.

Paul Woodson, a former Salisbury mayor, said some residents asked him to consider a gym for the east side of the city.

Aceves said the city staff will take the information to begin to draft the master plan. He said more input will come from a phone survey and a public hearing as the plan goes before City Council.

“It’s great to engage the public, which is the process we’re in now to see what their needs are. And LandDesign and The Kelly Group are great. They’re really respected in their field,” Aceves said. “They’re going to take the information that the public brings to us and compile it, and we’ll be able to start. They’re going to start giving us those recommendations and put it all together, and it’s something we can definitely go by the next 10 years.”

The plan is expected to be completed in March.

“This is exciting. I’ve been here almost three years, and it’s something I’ve wanted since I’ve gotten here,” Aceves said. “I knew even when I came in, the other (plan) is getting older. LandDesign is great to work with. All the city departments that are taking part helping with this is great.”