Public session, feedback on parks visioning important

The Columbus Parks and Recreation Department has an opportunity to re-create its parks and facilities based on modern-day opportunities and expectations and is asking for the public’s help in doing so.

As the department determines priorities for the next five years, it is relying on help from a consultant who created a needs assessment based on a wide variety of feedback and analysis.

The assessment showed that the Columbus city parks are good, but not great, and that some of the facilities — such as Donner Center, which opened in 1947 and where the parks operation is based — are outdated.

Mark Jones, director of the Parks and Recreation department, said his department’s goal moving forward is for:

•Facilities that are flexible in design and programming

•Parks that are interconnected, multi-generational, multi-seasonal, active and engaging

•Technology to be integrated to a greater degree at parks and facilities, such as wireless connectivity

A public session on what residents would like to see in the park system produced feedback in the fall. Most recently, local residents were invited to participate in a visioning workshop Wednesday at Donner Center.

Jones said about 35 to 40 people attended. They listened to a presentation by the consultant, then divided into breakout groups for discussion. They used sticky notes to post suggestions, and Jones said a lot of suggestions were received and those who attended were engaged in the process.

It’s good government to include public feedback in determining decisions that will impact public facilities. The parks department is ensuring that residents’ voices are heard.

Public sessions such as the one Wednesday are useful and important, especially when considering that the city’s park system is an important amenity for local residents.