Additional input being sought on Hillsborough’s parks plan

When Hillsborough County property owners receive their annual notice from the property appraiser’s office, they’ll also get an invitation to take part in an online survey about the county’s parks master plan.

Hillsborough County is seeking citizen input on the county’s park system through an online survey. Results of the survey will be used to help generate the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, which should be complete by the end of this year. (Courtesy of Hillsborough County)

Hillsborough County is seeking citizen input on the county’s park system through an online survey. Results of the survey will be used to help generate the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, which should be complete by the end of this year.
(Courtesy of Hillsborough County)

The Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation Department has teamed up with the county’s property appraiser to spread information to property owners about a park survey for the Parks & Recreation Master Plan.

Nearly 450,000 TRIM (Truth in Millage) notices sent out this month will not only inform Hillsborough County property owners on how much their residences are worth and what their taxes are likely to be, but will tell them how to participate in the county’s online parks survey, through PlanYourParks.org.

Beyond that invitation, the county also is sending postcards with information about the survey to 20,000 households.

Between both efforts, Doc Dougherty, the county’s parks and recreation director, said the hope is to receive at least 50,000 responses from county residents.

They hope the completed surveys will provide the department with a realistic view of upgrades and improvements needed for each neighborhood park.

The goal is to have a final master plan in time for the county’s budget discussions in January, Dougherty said.

Once completed, the plan essentially will be a “wish book” of requests, upgrades and programming for the park system.

The parks and recreation department recently had a series of seven meetings throughout the county to solicit residents’ opinions the park system.

On June 27, an addendum survey at the Northdale Community Center indicated a strong preference for more senior-oriented programs, disc golf fields, and hiking and walking trails. There were also requests for more open green spaces with picnic areas and additional recreation centers.

The county’s parks and recreation system is large. It includes: More than 180 neighborhood parks, 118 playgrounds, 270 athletic fields and 53 community centers.

The county also oversees five dog parks and three skateparks.

“A big part of our discussion of the master plan is: Do we build new parks or do we renovate old parks? When you start looking at the number of parks we already have, how about we invest into the older parks,” Dougherty said at a public open house in June.

“A lot of people just think about the big parks that we have, but we’ve got such small individual parks that just a little (upkeep) will go a long way.”

Published August 24, 2016

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