Meeting discusses future of parks

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

What will the parks and recreational areas of Washington County look like in the future? That was the point of a meeting held at the Washington Public Library Monday evening where the public was asked about their thoughts on how planning of parks should go.

Planners Josie Matteson and Chris Janson of MSA Professional Services held the planning meeting to gather public input on planning recreational areas. About 10 people who attended brainstormed ideas of strengths and weaknesses of Washington County rec areas as well as opportunities. Matteson said MSA is facilitating the creation of a trails and recreation plan for Washington County and hopes to gather a lot of input from a wide variety of people.

?It?s a regional plan involving all the cities involving how to improve the park and recreational system for the region as a whole so we have linkages, so it is implementable and so we don?t have unnecessary duplications,? Janson said.

People wishing to give input can take an online anonymous survey at

?Comprehensive planning also tries to form a consensus in the community,? Matteson said. ?Through meetings like this we learn what a community wants and form a consensus to see what can best be put in this plan.?

She said the suggestions gathered will be inventoried and the planners will find where there is consensus and create the plan from it.

Questions explored how Washington?s existing rec areas impact quality of life; both positive and negative aspects of the trails systems and the rec areas; and several items that are already being implemented, such as the Wellness Park in Washington.

Matteson said that there will be focus groups in April regarding the plan. There will be four more public workshops after a tentative plan is created. The finished plan is expected in July.

Additional meetings will be held at 6 p.m. March 5 in Lake Darling Lodge in Lake Darling State Park in Brighton; 6 p.m. March 15 in the Conservation Education Center in Marr Park; and 6 p.m. March 20 in the Kalona Library. The meetings are open to the public.