Always work to be done

Parks and Rec. talks Master Plan, updates to parks

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ
The Marshalltown Parks and Rec. Advisory Committee met Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, to discuss the latest findings of the Parks and Rec. survey, and to discuss plans for renovations, repairs and general upkeep of the city’s 21 parks. Parks and Rec. Director Anne Selness (center) said the public has expressed an interest in Parks and Rec. repairing existing park structures before major renovating is done.

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ The Marshalltown Parks and Rec. Advisory Committee met Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, to discuss the latest findings of the Parks and Rec. survey, and to discuss plans for renovations, repairs and general upkeep of the city’s 21 parks. Parks and Rec. Director Anne Selness (center) said the public has expressed an interest in Parks and Rec. repairing existing park structures before major renovating is done.

The Marshalltown Parks and Rec. Advisory Committee met Wednesday afternoon at City Hall to discuss the latest findings of the Parks and Rec. survey, and to discuss plans for renovations, repairs and general upkeep of the city’s 21 parks.

“It seemed the biggest thing we’ve learned from the results of the survey, is we need to upgrade everything we have before we add any new amenities,” said Parks and Rec. Director Anne Selness.

She gave the committee an overview of what was discussed at last week’s Parks and Rec. open house, which revealed Park’s and Recreation’s 2018-2028 Strategic Master Plan, whereby consulting agency, Bolton & Menk, presented some preliminary findings from the community-wide survey related to what folks would like to see changed/improved/renovated in the parks.

“One thing that came out of the [open house] was the finding that people feel teens are the most under-served by our parks,” Selness said. “So, Bolton & Menk is developing a new survey just for teens, that will be distributed in the schools.”

Brad Weuve, Park Superintendent, spoke about how busy his department has been since the summer park season started in mid-April. He said the restrooms and shelters at West End and Anson parks are in the process of being repainted and repaired. The aquatic center’s pool will be repainted in the fall. He noted the challenges in fixing problems caused by vandals, namely, the recent damage done to playground equipment at Mega-10 Park.

“It can be hard removing marker from plastic playground equipment because it’s porous,” Weuve said. “We get a lot of graffiti on the walls [of bridges] and we find you spend less time painting over the graffiti than trying to clean it off.”

Weuve did note, however, that cases of vandalism are actually down this year, compared to prior years.

Marshalltown Parks and Rec. works with a substantially lower budget, and with fewer staff than cities across the county with similar populations. As Casey Byers of Bolton & Menk stated at the open house, “The operating expenditures per acre of parkland Marshalltown Parks and Rec. works with, is $7,699; the national median (for similar population) is $11,064,” he said. “In addition, the total number of people working full time hours on park’s and rec.’s staff is 14.92; the national median (for similar population) is 25.8.”

However, in terms of acres of parks in the city, per 1,000 residents, Marshalltown ranks right on track with similar cities (7.62 Marshalltown, 8 national median).

“Brad and his crew are doing a fabulous job for the staff we have, and it just shows we’re doing the best we can,” Selness said.

Bolton & Menk will give a final presentation of the survey’s findings in an open house on September 21 from 4-6 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The survey (in both Spanish and English) is still available, now until September 1 by visiting: https://ci.marshalltown.ia.us and at the Parks and Rec. office, located at 10 W. State St. So far, over 200 surveys have been completed.

The Parks and Rec. Advisory Committee will meet next on October 18 at 4:15 p.m. at City Hall.

For more information, Selness may be contacted at: aselness@ci.marshalltown.ia.us or 641-754-5715, ext. 4. Weuve may be reached at: bweuve@ci.marshalltown.ia.us

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com