AUBURN – The findings of a five-year master plan for the Auburn Parks Department were presented in a special session on Tuesday.
Philip Parnin, Senior Project Manager for Pros Consulting of Indianapolis, shared data from a recent statistically valid survey, results of program evaluation, park and facility assessment, level of service for Auburn Parks and Recreation and asset mapping during the meeting.
Results show over 150 acres of parkland in Auburn, with five community parks ranging from 6.2 to 66 acres each, including Eckhart Park, Memorial Park, Rieke Park, Smith Acres Park, and Thomas Park; as well as five neighborhood parks of 0.67 to 9.8 acres each, including Forrest Park, Riley Park, DeSoto Park, Willennar Park and Don Lash Park. Four special recreation areas have also been reported: Courtyard Park, Carr Fields, Eckhart Park disc golf course and Auburn Gear Park which has yet to be developed.
Parnin, who has worked with several Indiana parks departments, praised the city’s new skate park as one of the best in the state.
An outdoor swimming pool was at the top of the survey’s list of unmet needs for equipment and facilities, followed by restrooms, access to water for kayaking and canoeing, bike paths and paved walks, nature parks and reserves, and outdoor recreation, including camping, fishing, archery and water games. .
Results from the site showed the need to plant new generation trees, maintain vegetation, add native plantings, establish toilet design standards and modernize playgrounds. Reallocating underused and aging equipment, developing a system-wide graphic design standard for the park and increasing maintenance standards, and adding Americans with Disabilities Act trails to estates Keys of interest to children and adults, especially gathering places, were assets. importance.
Area schools, playgrounds, the Auburn YMCA and churches also provide parks and recreation services to residents, Parnin added.
The investigation showed that the development of walking and cycling trails, improvement and maintenance of existing amenities, winter recreation opportunities and washrooms were the top financial priorities. The “other” category was the highest response in the survey, but no specific area was identified.
Suzanne Davis, who was one of a dozen citizens who attended the session, asked how capital could be raised to fund improvements.
“We would love to do anything,” Parnin said, “but we have to be realistic. We need to hear wants and needs. Money is a factor.
Councilor Mike Walter asked if a parks foundation could be formed to fund items that may not be in the parks budget.
Parnin replied that the formation of a foundation will be explored and if found to be viable, it will be continued.
“People are more willing to fundraise for quality of life,” he said.
But an outdoor swimming pool does not provide income to sustain itself, especially in the event of system failure and acts of nature, Parnin said of this specific project.
Walter pointed out that the need to control erosion on the banks of Cedar Creek could be funded by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
He also expressed the addition of strategic lighting that would not be intrusive for the neighboring house but would ensure the safety of these facilities.
A resident suggested adding outdoor nature and adventure programs and natural play landscapes such as those found in Léo-Cedarville Park.
“Natural playgrounds are all the rage in parks and recreation across the country,” Parnin said. This would include rope challenges and ziplines, activities that create new experiences to draw people to different parks. “There is already a good foundation to build on” in Auburn.
Over the next few weeks, it is planned to review funding and revenue strategies, a capital improvement plan, creating a vision and action plan with a draft to be submitted to the Ministry of Indiana Natural Resources by Jan.15, 2022, followed by a recommendation. presentation and submission of the final report to the INDR before April 15, 2022.