Park Board Public Input Meeting
by Beth Stauffer
On Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 the New Haven Adams Township Parks and Recreation Department hosted a public input meeting in the city council chambers at City Hall. The purpose of the meeting was to solicit the ideas, opinions, and concerns of local residents about the city’s parks. According to the Superintendent of Parks, Mike Clendenen, the public’s response at this meeting will be used to “prepare a comprehensive master plan which will provide guidance for future park improvements and program development.”
Dan Ernst, Partner at Earth Source, Inc., gave a brief introduction to the public input portion of the meeting. Stacy Haviland, landscape architect and project manager with Earth Source, Inc., then complimented the standing room only crowd for coming out to participate in this first phase of planning.
The floor was then opened up to the public for comments regarding the strengths of the Parks and Recreation Department. New Haven resident Sue Schuckel started the ball rolling by saying the Parks and Recreation Department does a fantastic job “reaching out to children and people who would otherwise be at home playing video games.”
Regarding the Parks and Recreation Department’s strengths, New Haven resident Doug Geller said “Its diversity of programs. The proximity of parks is another one of its strength. You’re close to a park anywhere you are in town.”
Also receiving kudos from those assembled at the meeting were the “hardworking parks and rec staff” and “the enthusiastic superintendent, Mike Clendenen”. Additional strengths mentioned include the very nice trails that are accessible to residents, the city’s two beautiful swimming pools, and the sheer number of parks the city has to offer.
Next on the agenda the public was allowed to comment on any perceived weaknesses of the Parks and Recreation Department. Two weaknesses that were mentioned included the lack of restroom amenities at Meadowbrook and the restroom facilities that are in disrepair at Schnelker Park. Also, several residents voiced concerns about the inconsistent maintenance and equipment in need of repair at different parks.
After voicing differing opinions about the strengths and weakness of the Parks and Recreation Department, the floor was opened up to suggestions about what amenities or programs the Parks and Recreation Department should investigate offering in the future.
Doug Geller stated that “Schnelker Park is probably the most visited park in New Haven, especially during Canal Days, and it needs a new restroom.” Mr. Geller, along with Parks Superintendent Clendenen, also suggested the idea of adding a band shelter to Schnelker Park to create a venue for music and fine arts in the park.
Another idea mentioned several times during the meeting was to create a dog park/dog run for residents with four legged friends. Some other ideas suggested by those in attendance at the meeting included expanding the River Greenway north, adding a restroom to the park at Meadowbrook, adding a playground to Moser Park, and building a Community Center.
At the conclusion of the meeting, attendees were given stickers and asked to use them to rate the different suggested ideas in order of importance to them. The Parks and Recreation Department, in conjunction with Earth Source, Inc., will take this information into consideration while developing the new 5 Year Master Plan for the community’s parks.