The Forsyth County Parks Board had a chance this week to voice their opinions on parks, amenities and the department as part of a recently approved plan to guide county parks through 2026.
During their first meeting of the year, the board and Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor worked on a short-term strategic plan for the department’s recently adopted 10-year master plan. Pryor said the plan will be updated each year.
“A lot of things can change in a year’s time,” Pryor said “You can get a piece of property that opens up; you can get a new user group. There’s a lot of elements in the community that can change in a hurry; priorities shift.”
As part of the plan, the four present board members ranked the greatest strengths and weaknesses facing the system.
The board found the strengths to be, in order: quantity and diversity of programs; staff; quality of programs; community partners and sponsors; and community engagement.
They also found the department’s weaknesses to be capital funding, inventory of field space, growth and the disappearance of green space and the dedication of temporary staff.
The plan, which was done by consulting firm Benesch, includes an inventory of amenities, an action plan, recommendations for improvements and expansions and the current needs at parks.
A community survey was mailed out to 7,000 randomly selected households in the county, and stakeholders meetings, focus groups and public meetings were used to form the plan.
“The plan that you have in front of you is a very large and sophisticated plan; it was actually set up with a lot of public involvement, meetings, a mass survey,” Pryor told the board. “It has a very large price tag attached to it. It has 40 projects that are recommended from within there, but it is a full assessment of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going.”
Unsurprisingly, much of the plan deals with growth in the county, including a recommendation for the addition of four new “community” parks, with about 20 additional ballfields. The plan proposes “a standard of one field for every 4,000 people in the service population.”
The most popular outdoor amenities are walking and nature trails, greenways and playgrounds, while the most popular indoor are walking tracks, recreation centers and nature and environmental education centers.
The community also said renovating older parks and trails, expanding the Big Creek Greenway and acquiring new land for passive facilities were priorities.
A digital copy of the plan can be found online at Forsythco.com/parks.