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Chesterfield Parks: A good system but needs exist

The Chesterfield Parks, Recreation and Arts operation has a good system in place and residents recognize that but needs exist that should be addressed. That’s a thumbnail summary of the parks master plan findings presented at a public meeting at city hall last month.

Chatting after the presentation of the proposed Chesterfield parks master plan are, from left: Tom McCarthy, director of the city’s parks, recreation and arts department; Mary Ann Mastorakos, City Council member from Ward 2; Merrell Hansen, who chairs the city’s planning commission; Chesterfield resident Tricia Whelan; Philip Parnin and Leon Younger from Pros Consulting.

Leon Younger, president and project lead of Indianapolis-based Pros Consulting, and Philip Parnin, the firm’s senior project manager, reviewed the plan’s preliminary conclusions and recommendations during the hour-long session.

The consultants praised the community’s interest and involvement in the survey and also described the Chesterfield Parks, Recreation and Arts department as “a leader in standards and excellence” whose maintenance operation is “incredibly organized and well maintained.”

Among other things, the master plan’s findings included:

  • Parks are spread across the city, except in Ward 3.
  • Adequate parking and ease of access vary by park.
  • Half of the top priorities identified by citizens involve indoor recreation space needs.
  • Current shared use facilities have user priorities that impact or restrict the department’s services, negatively impacting customers.

Addressing the identified needs calls for a number of steps, including:

  • Acquiring land and developing parks across the city to create park equity in all wards.
  • Exploring ways to enhance parking at Central Park.
  • Adding trail connectivity throughout the city.
  • Planning for additional green space and nature areas at the start of a site master plan design.
  • Considering indoor, multigenerational, indoor recreation space with senior commons space and field house multipurpose spaces.
  • Establishing priorities for trails, nature center, an indoor walking track, indoor fitness/conditioning, indoor pools and green space.
  • Setting top program priorities for seniors, nature, group fitness/wellness, community gardens, walk/run activities and water fitness.

Identified as the top recreation facilities for investment were walking and biking trails, nature centers and trails, indoor running and walking tracks and indoor fitness and exercise space.

Following those preferences were green space and natural areas, indoor swimming and leisure pools, canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding opportunities, and small [2-10 acres] neighborhood parks.

The consulting firm will consider points and questions raised during the brief discussion period that followed the presentation for possible modifications to its preliminary report before submitting the final planning document to the city.

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