Plan Our Parks Public Forum #1

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Thursday night at 5:30pm, at the Palm Coast Community Center, Berry Dunn Employees held the first of several public forums to plan our parks.  Residents listened to a presentation that detailed the outcome of the focus groups that Berry Dunn had put on over the past week. They had roughly 47 participants in the focus groups, of a variety of ages, length of residency, and any had a wide variety of diverse interests.

Surveys are currently being prepped not that focus groups are over, and should be sent to print within the week.  Initially surveys will be sent to 4500-5000 residents and these random surveys will be part of a statistic group. Once the initial surveys start coming back the survey link will be available for ANY resident to take. People will be able to share the survey once it has been presented to the general public. The survey will also be distributed to middle school students and to high school students.

Berry Dunn will be launching a social pinpoint site that will have two different boards for residents to utilize. One board will be the Idea Wall, where residents can post their ideas and ask for input, make comments, like or dislike. The other board on the site will be the Forum. The forum will be for conversations amongst residents, such as: If you were department head of parks and rec for one day what would you do? Again other residents can make comments or like or dislike peoples answers.

They will also be using multiple ways to create different analysis options. They will be compiling inventories of parks and their conditions, so that parks and rec will have a spreadsheet of what parks need what kind of improvements. There will also be information on data driven recommendations; Berry Dunn has information on national trends,  plus decades of experience to help show the City and the County where and how to implement what the residents would like to see.

Attendee asked what the age demographic was for the focus group, Art Thatcher answered with a rough statistic, saying the breakdown was roughly 60% older community and 40% younger working age.

Another attendee asked why Berry Dunn was issuing the survey to middle and high school students, since this is a 10 year plan, he stated that since most students would be leaving the area, why would they put any emphasis on their opinion over elementary aged kids. Berry Dunn Team Manager Art Thatcher, answered with the fact that generally the student surveys are less than 5% different from the adult surveys, and that students are generally more eco friendly. He also stated that we will have no idea how many or which students will leave the area vs stay, much like we won’t know which families with young children will stay or move away. He also stated that he would speak further with the attendee after the presentation was finished.

The rest of the presentation had to do with analyzing the data from the focus groups.

After Thatcher went through and showed all the slides and focus group data, he opened it up for public comment and discussion.

One attendee just wanted to make a comment about the Indian Trails Sport Complex and how having top quality sports fields has helped with tourism and the local economy.

Another attendee wanted to second the focus group data by saying our area needs more skate parks.

A chairman to the Tourist Council made a comment seconding the previous comment on sports tournaments and the impact on our local economy.

A representative of the Flagler Horseshoe Club wanted to be on record saying our county needs more horseshoe courts and marketing for those courts.

Another attendee asked after the planning and surveys are done, where does the money for all of this come from. Thatcher answered her by explaining we are not there yet. This is a 10 year plan and this is just the information gathering phase.

An attendee asked if Berry Dunn would be looking at the historical side of things; meaning would they look at previously planned parks that the city had originally planned to create but never got around to? She mentioned how her neighborhood had been slated for a park 24 years ago and has still not had one put in. Attendee also stated we needed a full time senior center that is for seniors only.  Thatcher answered the attendee first by telling her that the research phase includes digging into previously planned projects, and making sure that parks are in appropriately placed locations near population areas. He also stated that nationally the trend is leaning away from senior centers and towards multi-generational centers.

The Chairman to the Tourism Council also wanted to make a comment that Palm Coast City has just broken ground on a new sports complex, that will include a great many amenities.

An attendee asked if there was a current list of future public meetings to discuss the planning of our parks. Thatcher stated that there will be more meetings but dates have not been chosen yet.

Another attendee said one of the area’s problems is that residents do not show up when given the opportunity.

Another attendee asked if Berry Dunn would be providing input in the way of their experience, and nationally trending ideas. Thatcher stated that yes, they would be providing that kind of insight.

An attendee who stated she was a Flagler native, meaning she grew up here and stayed, asked about possibly expanding upon the existing sports fields. Right now she said the football teams use Wadsworth Park’s fields and those are not even level. She made a note that Indian Trails complex is top notch quality while other fields are far below that standard. She said attending the City Meetings doesn’t help as they don’t listen. She asked how will Berry Dunn account for this? Thatcher stated that they will be keeping everyone up to date with the progress of this planning phase.

Another commenter asked if it was too soon to ask for a splash pad. He made a point about his son has autism. He would like to see more additions to existing parks in the way of sensory activities and such for those with disabilities. Thatcher answered with the fact that special needs came up in every focus group.

Another commenter asked if this plan would be focused on Palm Coast as is, or with future expansion in mind. Thatcher stated that non of that has been decided yet.

Keep your eyes peeled for more news on the subject as well as meeting information on future public meetings.


By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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