What an exciting time for Portage Parks this year!

With funds from the passage of last year's park levy starting to come in, we're gearing up with a few more key staffers, equipment, trucks and preparations to resurface our hike and bike trails for smoother travel.

But as we consider more in-depth park system development plans, we'd like your help.

The Portage Park District is launching a comprehensive strategic parks master plan to improve our park system. Working with planning consultant Brandstetter Carroll Inc., the master plan will look holistically at park and program needs and opportunities to consider what we and our partners already have and what is needed.

We'll also look closely at our park properties, including more than 1,000 acres of unopened parkland, to develop site plans and determine appropriate uses and facilities.

We are offering several ways for you to stay in touch with the process and ask questions, add your ideas, give feedback on proposed plans and participate in planning hikes and public meetings.

We'll provide notices in the newspaper, on our Facebook page, in the park newsletter and in our online interactive forum, linked from our website.

To learn more about Portage parks and how to get involved over the next several months, visit the district website and parks master plan page at www.portageparkdistrict.org/masterplan.

For starters, a mail-in survey will be sent to random households. If you're one of the lucky ones to get it, take a few minutes to complete and return it. The results will be tallied to provide a valid snapshot of public opinion.

But if you don't get the mail survey, we still want your opinion. Complete the survey online or request a paper copy from our office.

For a chance to see some of our larger properties that are not yet open, I'll lead hikes Sunday afternoons through August and early September. Check our website for details.

We want the master plan to reflect the desires and needs of the citizens of Portage County, so your input is very important, and we want to make it easy for you.

Give us a call at 330-297-7728 or provide your comments or answers to the above questions in writing via our online forum, by email at info@portageparkdistrict.org or by mail at Portage Park District, 705 Oakwood St., Suite G-4, Ravenna 44266.

Craycroft is executive director of the Portage Park District.