TALLMADGE – What the citizens want from their parks is revealed in the Master Parks Plan.

Patrick Hoagland of Brandstetter Carroll Inc. shared the information gathered from surveys and mapping about the city's parks at a city council meeting this month.

The vision for the city is to build a happy and healthy community by connecting people to quality parks, engaging programs and unique events.

Mayor David Kline said the master plan is a great concept but the city has to come up with the funding. The 2020 budget has some strategic plans for parks.

“The easy part is done,” Kline said. “But we need to come up with funding.”

The plan includes information on setting up a foundation so sponsors or groups can donate to fund items such as an amphitheater.

Kline said the city has spent $10 million in parks and recreation in the last 20 years. The recreation center is the envy of other communities.

The 10-year plan spends $13 million and will change over time. It should be updated in five and 10 years and future surveys includes some satisfaction questions to show if residents are satisfied with the changes.

“We have to do better on the cosmetics of these parks,” Kline said.

The work on the master plan began in May 2018 and the public participated in a workshop in September 2018. Residents responded well to the survey with 556 out of 1,500 households.

The company mapped the city's parks and assessed the facilities and programs. About 50 percent of residents live within 10 miles of a park which is a low percentage.

Some of the information gathered showed that 86 percent of Tallmadge residents use their parks on a regular basis. Hoagland said Tallmadge does better financially and generates double revenue for parks than other similarly-sized communities.

Even in 1977 the city talked about a new park in the southern part of town.  Potential locations for parks are in the southern area; in Ripley Farm if developed; and small neighborhood parks in the south.

The Master Parks Plan also identifies areas with significant gaps in services. Also, Hoagland said ADA, restrooms and amphitheater are the top priorities. 

Most responders wanted an increase in restrooms at the park, walking trails, and drinking fountains. Priorities included an indoor swimming pool, walking and hiking trails, a natural park, paved bike trails and neighborhood parks.

During group meetings, residents requested a dog park, more sidewalks, loop trails, an indoor pool, teen programs and more fitness programs.

The report recommended the city could upgrade existing facilities and add new trails. They should look at new senior programs, new open space purchases and new programs for adults.

Residents who don't use the parks said they didn't know what was offered or the fees were too high while others complained that programs they were interested in weren't offered or the times weren't convenient.

Different parks have different goals: Jaycee Howe Road Park, a dog park, improved baseball field and trails; Maca Park, trails added, a playground and tennis courts; and Lions Park, an amphitheater, trails connecting to the Freedom Trail and pickleball courts.

Council member Craig Sisak said the city needs to prioritize what work can be done in-house and save money. “The large capital projects take more planning and time,” he said.

Council is not required to approve the Master Parks Plan but they can refer to it during the budget process.

Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com