City's parks and rec master plan adopted
By Grace Lovins
Birmingham city commissioners approved the adoption of the 2024-2028 Parks and Recreation Master Plan during the Monday, December 18, commission meeting, setting in motion goals and actions to enhance accessibility and sustainability in the city’s parks and recreation system.
The plan – presented by planning, building and design consulting firm McKenna, headquartered in Northville – included an inventory of the parks and recreations’ department current facilities, an analysis of the parks and recreation system using national standards for accessibility, inclusion and sustainability, and defined goals, objectives and actions.
Representatives with McKenna and parks and recreation manager Carrie Laird explained that the development of the plan included several opportunities for public engagement. McKenna staff attended events throughout the city to hear the thoughts of attendees, a public survey and two roundtable discussions on top of the required public hearing.
In the plan, a list of key actions summarized the desires of the community specific to the parks and systemwide. Universally, residents would like to see things like universal playgrounds, bicycle and dog infrastructure, adult fitness stations, sustainability pilots and education programs incorporated throughout the city.
More specific to the parks system, the plan lays out system updates like the installation of accessible entrances and inclusive playgrounds, updating of the Kenning Park master plan, and the development of a master plan for the redevelopment of St. James Park.
“I served on the parks and rec board for 13 or 14 years and I was chair when we developed the 2018 Parks Master Plan, and I want to say that this is just such an improved document,” said commissioner Therese Longe.
“It’s aspirational yet it has strategic goals. I very much liked the flexibility that’s built into it that when you talk about suggested opportunities for doing things, you’re including potential locations. It lays out the work of the parks and rec board for the next several years,” she continued.
Commissioner Clinton Baller noted that while the plan is well laid out, he would like to see a bigger commitment to the recreation aspect. According to the McKenna team though, the public gave the impression that the current level of offerings were satisfactory.
“Our intention was to cover recreational opportunities in all facets. What I think we heard resoundingly was that people are pretty satisfied with the offerings that they have and also what I found interesting was that the amount of partnerships you had for recreational opportunities also seemed to be something that a lot of people were satisfied with. We did not sense an imperative to change that balance very much,” said a representative with McKenna.
As noted in the meeting packet, the city plans to submit the plan to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) for grant opportunities. The MDNR requires a current five-year plan on file for communities to qualify.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the master plan and direct city clerk Alexandria Bingham to sign the resolution.