Parks Master Plan leaves City Council peeved
For over a year, the city of Burleson has awaited an updated version of its Parks Master Plan. At its June 17 City Council meeting, the final product was delivered -- but not one members were expecting.
Last year, the city hired a consulting firm, GSBS Architects, to update the Parks Master Plan, which was last revised in 2008. At its Feb. 19, 2018, meeting the Council unanimously approved a $125,000 contract with GSBS, with $5,000 allocated for reimbursable expenses.
GSBS was contracted to “evaluate the park and recreational needs of the residents of Burleson based on demographic data, geographic distribution and public input through resident surveys and public workshops,” according to a description of the project on the city’s website.
“I’m just going to insist...that we get really meaningful feedback from young people,” Mayor Ken Shetter said at the February 2018 meeting. “They’re not your only parks users but they’re certainly some of your most significant.”
“It’s not enough to know that 60 percent of the people you surveyed had a kid living in their house because the parent might say something very different from the kid,” Shetter said at last year’s meeting. “I want to know what the kids have to say themselves.”
When GSBS architects Sam Jones and Christine Richman presented the final draft of the Parks Master Plan to the Council on June 17, they said the surveys, community workshops and focus groups conducted generally did not include responses from residents under the age of 18.
The topic of one of the focus groups was youth, despite having no feedback from the age group itself.
Shetter said he was disappointed that young people, who make up a third of Burleson’s population, weren’t included in responses.
“I don’t know how the hell we got to the point that we didn’t bother to include them,” Shetter said.
“I think that the best way to have children involved is where they are involved normally throughout the day, and that would be in our school districts,” Councilwoman Katherine Reading said in regards to remedying the Plan presented to the Council.
Other members of the Council also expressed concern with the final draft of the plan.
“What we’re looking for is something that also includes a thematic element,” Councilman Todd Hulsey said, referencing the themes derived from the citizen input surveys.
“I was expecting to have a comprehensive plan that outlined our next steps to our parks Master Plan,” Reading said about her expectations for the presentation. “I felt that the recommendations that they had given were great but it did not identify the priorities and steps in place to achieve an overall vision for our city.”
At the meeting, GSBS provided City Council with an 82-page report consisting of data and analysis regarding the Burleson parks system.
Among this research, GSBS found that 9 percent of survey respondents said the Burleson park system is excellent, 59 percent said it’s good, 29 percent said it’s fair and 3 percent said it’s poor.
Richman presented information about 10-Minute Walk, a national campaign which encourages mayors across the country to commit to providing more equitable access to quality parks, and recommended the city increase the number of Burleson residents within a 10-minute walk from a park from 64 to 80 percent by 2040.
GSBS recommended that the city add two to three new community parks, as well as an additional 331 acres dedicated to park land by 2040 in order to meet this goal.
A new timeline has not been announced for when the updated Master Plan will be presented to City Council.