The Palm Coast City Council took a significant step forward in its commitment to providing residents and visitors with a high quality of life by approving the 2023 Parks & Recreation Master Plan.
The City of Palm Coast has long prioritized the development and continued upkeep of public parks, open spaces, trails, greenways, and recreational facilities to contribute to the overall well-being of its community. Recognizing the importance of this goal, in December 2022, the City of Palm Coast collaborated with Flagler County Government and BerryDunn, a firm specializing in comprehensive parks master planning, to work towards a countywide approach to strategically map out the future of parks and recreation throughout Flagler County. The initiative was branded POP: Planning Our Parks.
The development process of the Master Plan was extensive and inclusive, involving an active public engagement program. This program featured discussions with various recreational facilities user groups, City Council and staff interviews, public forums, citizen surveys, an interactive social pinpoint website, and a Geo-Referenced Amenities Standards Process (GRASP) analysis combining GIS mapping with onsite reviews of parks, trails, and recreation facilities.
The Parks & Recreation Master Plan serves as a blueprint for the future development and enhancement of parks, open spaces, greenways, trails, and recreational services. By responding to changing demographics and public preferences, the plan aims to enhance the overall quality of life for existing residents and attract new residents, visitors, and businesses to the city.
The Parks & Recreation Master Plan has laid out four overarching goals, each serving as a strategic pillar guiding the comprehensive development and enhancement of the City of Palm Coast and Flagler County’s parks and recreational offerings.
Goal 1 emphasizes the imperative to invest in current infrastructure and address aging facilities, ensuring the longevity and efficiency of existing assets.
Goal 2 aims to elevate the quality and reach of programming and outreach initiatives, enriching the community’s engagement with recreational activities.
Goal 3 underscores the need for streamlined and improved organizational operations, fostering greater efficiency in delivering services.
Goal 4 centers on increasing financial opportunities to support the ambitious vision outlined in the Master Plan. These goals, along with their respective objectives and action items, have been meticulously crafted based on a thorough analysis of public input, inventory assessments, level of service analyses, feedback, and other critical information gathered during the master planning process. The primary focus remains on maintaining, sustaining, and continually improving the parks, facilities, programs, and services offered by the City of Palm Coast and Flagler County in a collaborative partnership.
Recognizing the importance of robust and sustainable funding, the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process will be engaged while simultaneously exploring alternative avenues to bolster these initiatives, particularly through strategic grant applications. This multifaceted approach allows for a comprehensive and dynamic funding strategy, enabling the city to not only adhere to the established capital plans but also pursue innovative opportunities that align with the overarching goals.
Significant strides have already been taken to implement key aspects of the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, demonstrating a proactive approach in utilizing the data provided. In a collaborative effort, the City of Palm Coast, Flagler County, and the Tourism Development Office joined forces with the Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) and the National Park Service in November 2023. The focus of this collaboration was to enhance trailheads countywide and establish a more cohesive system of signage and wayfinding. At the heart of these initiatives is the community’s input, particularly emphasizing the importance of trail connectivity. This critical insight has sparked dedicated discussions, making trail enhancement a central focus of the project.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of the Parks & Recreation Master Plan in advancing these efforts, the NEFRC and the National Park Service have committed to providing invaluable technical assistance to elevate the trail experience throughout Flagler County. Furthermore, they are actively involved in identifying potential funding sources to bring the ambitious goals outlined in the Master Plan to fruition. This collaborative and forward-thinking approach underscores the commitment to not only envisioning but actively realizing a more accessible, interconnected, and enriching parks and recreation system for the residents and visitors of Flagler County.
Building upon the insights gleaned from the master plan initiative, proactive measures have also been initiated to further enhance the visitor experience at Waterfront Park. Among these initiatives is the revitalization of QR codes strategically placed throughout the park, aimed at enriching the cultural, historical, and environmental information available to park-goers. Simultaneously, there is a focused push to expedite the renovation project for the Ralph Carter fields, reflecting a commitment to swiftly address and elevate key recreational amenities in response to the community’s evolving needs.
The adoption of this Master Plan aligns with the City’s Imagine 2050 initiative, the comprehensive plan update that is currently underway, and the data collected throughout this process will be included in the final comprehensive plan update. The vision emphasizes creating a unique and vibrant city recognized for its exceptional quality of life, attractive job opportunities, diversified housing, and superbly designed commercial areas. The plan also highlights the importance of preserving natural, recreational, and cultural resources, providing exemplary public facilities and services, and promoting responsible growth and fiscal planning.
The City Council recognizes that the adoption of this resolution and approval of the Master Plan is in the best interest of the public, providing a strategic framework for the development and enhancement of parks and recreation amenities that cater to the diverse needs of our community.
To learn more about the Parks and Recreation Master Plan project, including summary findings from several phases of the initiative as well as the adopted final plan, visit: www.palmcoast.gov/parks-and-recreation/pop To learn more about Imagine 2050 and help the City of Palm Coast plan for the future, visit: www.palmcoast.gov/imagine2050.