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Cleveland has first parks and recreation master plan in the works

A wooden park bench in the foreground faces a blue and green play structure on a playground covered in snow.
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
The city of Cleveland is looking to build on its annual parks and rec assessment to develop a master plan.

The city of Cleveland has announced it's working on its first master plan for its parks and recreation facilities.

The plan will incorporate feedback gathered through surveys and in-person engagement during the annual community needs assessment being conducted by the Mayor's Office of Capital Projects.

“Every year the city, we do an assessment of our parks and recreation centers, but we've never done a full, comprehensive master plan for our facilities,” said Assistant Director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects Keshia Chambers, “so this would be the very first time that we're looking at all of the individual properties with the overall intent of doing a very cohesive plan on how we move forward.”

While the Office of Capital Projects is still collecting input from community members, it is also preparing for the next phase of planning. There are parks and recreation projects that have been completed and some that are still in the works, Chambers said. But moving forward, she said the office will be focused on identifying gaps in service.

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“Once we understand where our gaps are as far as our service delivery, that will be one approach that we'll use to determine which facilities we will begin to upgrade or revise programing next,” she said.

One key finding of the community needs assessment showed that while over 60% of survey respondents felt they live in walking distance of a park, less than 50% felt the same about recreational facilities.

“The overall goal and why we did such an extensive survey is to make sure that we do this with a very equitable lens,” Chambers said. “We want to make sure that there is an equal distribution of services throughout the city.”

Another finding is that half of the Cleveland residents surveyed think one of the biggest barriers to using parks and recreational facilities is poor maintenance. This is another issue that will be addressed in the master plan, said Director of Public Works Frank Williams.

“We are working to revamp our approach to how we focus on maintenance and how we approach it going forward,” he said. “When we talk about the cadence and the regularity of maintenance and what maintenance actually is, some things that are called maintenance sometimes can be so far that they actually turn into an actual capital project.”

The master plan to improve parks and recreational facilities is intended to work hand-in-hand with the city’s other initiatives, said Williams. This includes the lakefront plan in which land north of the Cleveland Brown’s stadium will be renovated.

“When we understand that our parks and our recreation are incumbent upon the quality of life for our residents,” he said, “they tie in greatly to all of the mayor's initiatives as it relates to making the city of Cleveland a livable and an enjoyable place to partake in.”

The city says it hopes to complete the master plan this summer.

Jenna Bal is a news intern at Ideastream Public Media.