A significant move towards improving future recreational spaces in Palm Coast and Flagler County was taken as the “Planning Our Parks” Master Plan Initiative was discussed by the Parks Master Plan consultant, BerryDunn Project Manager Art Thatcher, and Palm Coast Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Brittany McDermott during the Palm Coast City Council meeting in early August.
Palm Coast and Flagler County partnered to hire BerryDunn, a nationally-known parks and recreation management consulting firm, to oversee the creation of a countywide Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The Master Plan looks at the existing parks, recreational facilities, programs, and services to determine the current and future level of services for the community based on public input. The plan prioritizes the needs and desires for upgrading, improving, or adding parks, recreational facilities, amenities, programs, and services.
Since the project commenced in December 2022, the master plan initiative has made impressive progress through its various stages. During the meeting, it was explained to the public and City Council that the plan is now nearing the end of phase four of its five-phase plan, with the ultimate goal being the creation of a roadmap for the future of parks and recreation countywide.
The initiative has actively involved the public every step of the way, using surveys, focus groups, and an interactive social website to gather essential data. These efforts have provided valuable insights into the community’s desires and concerns regarding the city’s parks and recreational facilities. Thatcher highlighted these concerns in the meeting, which included:
- Sustaining existing parks, beaches, amenities, and infrastructure such as shade structures, additional water features, etc.
- Revamping the golf course clubhouse.
- Upgrading the Aquatic Center.
- Expanding fairground facilities, incorporating covered areas.
- Enhancing the Bull Creek Fish Camp Restaurant at Dead Lake.
- Establishing supplementary water access points, such as kayak launches and fishing piers.
- Pioneering a modern athletic complex.
- Amplifying restroom facilities along trails, athletic fields, and playgrounds.
- Augmenting rectangular and diamond fields for diverse sports.
- Safeguarding open spaces, beaches, conservation lands, wildlife, and heritage sites.
- Developing novel amenities such as disc golf courses, bike parks, lighting, and shaded zones.
- Fortifying collaborations with the county, municipalities, and schools.
- Extending trail connectivity and the existing network.
- Enhancing communication regarding available facilities, activities, and offerings.
- Introducing additional programs for seniors, adults, teens, after-school activities, and outdoor recreation.
Building on the insights gathered from the community, BerryDunn has worked with Parks and Recreation to establish four fundamental goals, announced during the meeting, that will steer future developmental endeavors within recreational spaces:
- Invest in Current Infrastructure and Address Aging Facilities: Focus on rejuvenating and maintaining existing parks and facilities.
- Improve and Enhance Programming and Outreach: Introduce innovative programs for diverse age groups while increasing engagement with the community.
- Improve Organizational Operations: Enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of operations within the Parks and Recreation department.
- Increase Financial Investment: Secure funding sources and financial support to ensure the realization of proposed improvements.
“We’re so grateful to the residents and community members who actively participated and are continuing to participate in the ‘Planning Our Parks’ initiative. Your input and engagement have been instrumental in shaping the future of our recreational spaces,” said Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Brittany McDermott. “I also want to thank our dedicated county partners for their partnership throughout this process, exemplifying the power of collaboration. Together, we’re forging a legacy where residents and visitors can create memories with their loved ones, building connections that will span future generations.”
The initiative is ready to move into its next phase, creating the Parks and Recreation Facilities System Plan. This comprehensive framework will outline the physical development of parks, facilities, and recreational areas throughout Palm Coast, solidifying the vision of an accessible and vibrant recreational environment that caters to residents and visitors. A draft of the plan will be presented at the Board of County Commissioners meeting on September 18th and the City Council meeting on September 19th.
For more information on the “Planning Our Parks” Master Plan Initiative and the full presentation on the Goals & Objectives, click here.