Parks dept. welcomes public comment on open space plan

Government: Open houses have been helpful during the process, associate planner says

of the HeraldNovember 27, 2013 

Puyallup’s Parks and Recreation Department will accept public comment through Monday that’s submitted online via the Parks Plan Update Survey. The information will help set the vision for the community and neighborhood parks and open space for the next six years.

The City Council is expected to approve the updated Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan element of the city’s Comprehensive Plan in March. Revision and approval is certified by the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office, and that allows Puyallup to apply for grants to fund land acquisition and development of future parks and recreational space.

“The parks board will review public feedback, goals and objectives in December and hold a public hearing on the second Monday in January,” said Chris Beale, associate planner for Puyallup.

Three open houses, which have covered parks and recreation’s three service areas — neighborhood and community parks — have been held since July. The final one was held last Thursday at Pierce College on South Hill. Site overviews of Bradley Lake, Manorwood, Wildwood and Rainier Woods parks were presented.

Beale said one of the city’s goals since 2008 has been to acquire land in the Shaw-Pioneer area, the northeast quadrant of the city, and the West Hills, the southwest area near Fruitland.

While current service levels are meeting the population demand, additional parks are welcome, Beale said.

“We’re still deficient in the distribution of community and neighborhood parks,” Beale said.

Community parks, like Wildwood, ideally are 30 acres or more and designed to serve the community. Neighborhood parks, in contrast, typically are designed to be 3 to 7 acres and designed to serve close populations.

Adopted service goals for community parks are set at 5 acres per 1,000 residents, according to parks staff members. There are 5.29 acres per 1,000 residents as of this year. The adopted goal can serve up to 40,200 residents.

Goals for neighborhood parks have been set at 1 acre per 1,000 residents. The city provides 1.55 acres per 1,000 residents. With 37,980 who live within city limits, the goal can provide future capacity for more than 20,000 residents under current levels.

Beale said there is a desire to acquire more land and design more neighborhood parks to serve more people.

Bill Hilton, a member of the parks advisory board, said there is a need for parks in the Shaw-Pioneer area.

“The challenge is not only having parks, but maintaining them,” Hilton said. “If we plan for parks, we need to make sure to maintain them. It would be nice to put something in the Shaw-Pioneer area.”

Hilton said the parks maintenance crews do good jobs.

Parks Administrator Sarah Harris said it’s been helpful to have the vision of the parks board.

“The board has done a good job of prioritizing projects that have been on the capital improvement projects list for some time,” she said. “These open houses are very helpful. You get to hear from people who are passionate in different ways.”

Therese Pasquier, who campaigned for a seat on the Puyallup School Board in 2011, is championing parks with the founding of the Puyallup Parks Foundation. The newly minted organization is filing for 501(c)(3) status and is modeled after the Seattle Parks Foundation, Pasquier said.

“We’re looking for ways to raise money philanthropically for parks,” she said. “We want to find public-private partnerships and bring in additional revenue to look at certain projects.”

Pasquier also said there is a need to serve the population in the Shaw-Pioneer area.

“We could buy land by Shaw Road for recreational fields, like soccer, or a multi-sports complex,” Pasquier said. “I see a need, and I know there is money out there.”

Beale said the outpouring of feedback has been nice, and he welcomed continued comments.

Before the parks advisory board public hearing Jan. 13, a final open house will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on the fifth floor of city hall.

A link to the survey can be found at www.cityofpuyallup.org.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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