To comply with Mayor Jim Barnes’ request that it meet monthly and begin work on a vision for the future, the Richmond Parks and Recreation Board heard a presentation on revising strategic plans for parks.

Pat Hoagland of Brandstetter Carroll in Lexington said getting public input to assess a community’s needs and interests should be the first step in planning.

Hoagland said he had assisted cities and counties from Texas to New Jersey with strategic planning for parks. He advised Richmond on plans for Lake Reba Park in the 1980s and later assisted with Paradise Cove’s planning. He also advised Madison County when it created a strategic plan for park 10 years ago.

His firm has much experience in doing needs assessments, including surveys, focus groups and other information gathering, Hoagland said.

Public support for park and recreation improvements is more likely if everyone’s interests are addressed, not just those of organized groups, he said.

He showed maps of other cities and counties where Brandstetter Carroll has conducted studies which pinpointed where interviewees lived. The points evenly covered every map.

Public surveys have shown that walking and biking trails, which can be used by the broadest spectrum of a population, are most often named when citizen input is solicited, Hoagland said.

Several strategic plans Hoagland used as examples had been commissioned jointly by cities and counties.

“In a perfect world, we should be doing a plan with the county,” said Richmond City Commissioner Richard Thomas, who attended the meeting.

Many of Richmond park users do not live within the city limits, he said. The plan which Brandstetter Carroll did for Lake Reba showed it expected to draw visitors from across most of the county.

The city has little available land for additional recreational space, Thomas said. Unless its receives support from the county, Richmond should focus on providing services to neighborhoods within the city, he said.

The consulting fee for a strategic plan would be about $60,000, Hoagland said. Local governments often divide the fee between two fiscal years to make it more manageable, he said.

Creating a plan takes about nine months.

Kevin Gorman, parks and recreation director, said the master plan for the city’s parks was due for revision in 2013, but the mayor’s request gave the board reason to begin the process early.

Lori Murphy-Tatum, Richmond tourism director, attended the meeting and said the tourism commission has voted to co-sponsor the summer outdoor concerts in Irvine-McDowell Park.

Previously, the Richmond Area Arts Council had co-sponsored the June and July concerts with the parks department.

Because the park board will be meeting monthly, it voted to changed the meeting date to the first Tuesday of each month at noon. Meetings are conducted at the parks and recreation center, 321 N. Second St.

The city commission meets for 1 p.m. work sessions on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and Barnes, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, invited the park board to meet with the commission during one of its work sessions.

Tatum also suggested a joint meeting with the tourism commission.

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 624-6622.

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