The city's parks and recreation department director said today that he was convinced his department must meet the needs of people of all ages -- from baseball diamonds for youths to activities for senior citizens.
Fred DeVictor, the director, and other city officials concluded a series of four meetings Wednesday night to gather input for a new parks and recreation master plan.
The final meeting at Schwegler School attracted a contingent of the elderly.
"The population of elderly is growing," DeVictor said. "They want to make sure that they aren't forgotten in any plan."
DeVictor also said the meetings revealed demand for:
-- Expansion of swimming pools, baseball and softball diamonds and indoor recreation centers.
-- Construction of a designated area for skateboarding, and a public golf course.
-- Connection of parks with walking or bicycle trails and green spaces.
-- Continuing to place high priority on landscaping of parks.
DeVictor said Lawrence residents also wanted the city to acquire more land for parks, particularly in areas that haven't been developed yet.
"That should be done," he said. "If you don't do that, the land may not be available or might be too costly."
The next step in the department's planning process is to conduct two surveys this fall. One will target 1,000 Lawrence residents and the other will focus on youth.
"That will give us a good cross-section of the community as to what people think about parks and rec services," he said. "I don't know if that will complement what has come out of these meetings."
DeVictor said the public meetings would help the city's staff prepare questions for the surveys.
"We encourage people, if they couldn't make any of these meetings, to call or write letters to submit their thoughts," he said.
The goal is to submit a draft of the master plan to the Lawrence City Commission before the end of the year. The plan will set out a priority list for parks and recreation projects.
"Not surprisingly, we know now there are more projects we'd like to do than we are able to fund," DeVictor said.
The long-range planning project will cost about $20,000.
A consulting team headed by Paulette Associates of Prairie Village and Patterson and Associates of Lawrence will help the city with the plan.
Use of a master plan to guide park and recreation development is a growing trend nationally, said Foster Paulette, president of Paulette Associates.