Public engagement will be first step

Oct. 03, 2013 @ 09:26 PM

Recreation goals, policies and objectives are getting an update and revision with a master plan project for the city and county.

Mike Ciriello, planning director with the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, met with the Henderson-Vance Parks and Recreation Commission on Thursday. The project has been launched seeking public input, including through two yet to be scheduled open houses and an online site recently launched.

The documentation of a master plan would provide direction for department and government leaders for future development of the local recreation system. It is also believed to be pivotal to obtaining larger grants to fund implementation of the plan. The master plan document will become part of the city’s general fund capital improvement plan, or CIP.

Randy Oxendine, chairman of the recreation commission, said he felt comfortable working with the Kerr-Tar team.

“I really appreciate your taking the bid on this,” Oxendine said. “You are local. We know you, where you are, and you know us.”

“This process has officially started,” Ciriello said. “It runs through June 30, 2014. An important part of this is going to be public input, a public engagement process from the two face-to-face events. In advance of the first meeting, we will be gathering a lot of data.”

He added the second public event would offer an opportunity for interaction on the master plan as it nears completion.

“That will give the public in general another chance to look at the project,” Ciriello said.

Survey inquiries are expected to be ready in the next week. Ciriello said a master planning project website, hendersonparks.weebly.com, is active as an information interface for all things recreational in Vance County.

Ciriello said the open house format allows more people to take part, arriving and participating on their schedule. Perry Memorial Library has been suggested as a host site for the event.

The topics will tentatively include facilities for trails, parks and a recreation center; greenway mapping; activities for children, adults and seniors; programming and services for special groups; community outreach and education; facility access; and concerns and issues.

Ciriello said Kerr-Tar is involved with a project to plan the North Carolina Lakes District modeled much like the Virginia planning work for lakes across the border to the north.

“There is a link to that website at the Henderson parks website,” Ciriello said. “We are about halfway through that process. Virginia has done it. Virginia is light years ahead of us on that.”

According to Ciriello, the lakes district plan seeks to organize greenways, trails and marketing of the lakes as a whole.

Commission member Ed Wilson said he would like to see Vance County’s master plan include bike trails in the lake district.

Ciriello said incorporating both interests into cooperative efforts together is one of the major goals of the master planning process.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.