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What does parks and recreation mean to you?

Matthew Lane • Feb 18, 2020 at 11:30 AM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport’s Parks and Recreation Department wants to know what you think about its programs, facilities and parks and how the department can improve in those areas for the next five to 15 years.

Since October, the department has been working on its first-ever strategic plan, looking at all of the amenities under its umbrella, while working with a team of consultants to get feedback from residents and come up with a long-term plan for improvement.

Kitty Frazier, the manager of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, gave an update on the work done thus far to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday afternoon.

“It’s the first such plan we’ve ever done and we’re trying to make sure we’re doing it right the first time,” Frazier said.

GETTING PUBLIC INPUT

Kingsport hired Ragan-Smith Associates — a Tennessee-based consulting firm — to lead the master planning process. That company then brought on Equinox and Randall Gross Development Economics to supplement the proceedings.

Frazier said the consultants met with city staff, dozens of local stakeholders, nonprofits and other community members in December to hear what parks and recreation means to them.

“We’re trying to communicate with them on a regular basis and they’ve been communicating back with us,” Frazier said.

And to get as much information as possible, the city launched a public survey last year on the “Survey Monkey” website, asking folks which parks and facilities they frequent, what their recreation needs are and what prevents them from using the amenities.

If you would like to take the survey — and Frazier really hopes you do — then go to the department’s website (www.kingsportparksandrecreation.org) and follow the links to the survey. The survey will remain open through March, and so far about 500 people have participated.

WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?

The consultants have been to Kingsport numerous times since being hired, Frazier said, visiting and taking inventory at all of our parks and playgrounds, and gathering as much data as possible on all the Model City has to offer in the parks and recreation arena.

“They’ve ridden the Greenbelt, kayaked down the river and spent hours touring all of our facilities,” Frazier said. “We’re trying to educate them on who we are and what we have to help us move forward.”

The master plan will not include Bays Mountain Park or the Kingsport Aquatic Center, since both of those facilities are already following their own master plans. If Kingsport receives any information on either from the consultants, Frazier said she would pass it on to them.

Frazier said the consultants are currently in the research and analysis phase of the project, work that’s expected to wrap up by June. A recommended plan is expected by August. It’ll likely include recommendations on most aspects of the department, from programs and facilities to parks, sporting fields and playgrounds.

“We’ve asked them to show us what’s realistic, something we can implement. It’s great to have grand ideas, but if you can’t do it, then people get frustrated,” Frazier said.

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