Before there’s a park, there’s a plan.
The City and Borough of Juneau has a new Parks & Recreation Master Plan for the first time since 1997.
“We are trying to provide accessible recreation to everyone,” said Alexandra Pierce, project manager.
The new 228-page plan adapts the goals for future park development to reflect the city’s changing demographics. Since the current plan was adopted in 1997, the median age of Juneauites has increased. In 1980, the median age was 28.1. In 2017, it jumped to 38.4.
Pierce said that while it’s still important to provide youth services and programs for young people, they also need to be aware that the department needs to provide more adult and seniors’ programming.
“We need to be sure that our parks and trails have things for people with mobility issues, and lower impact options,” she said.
The plan is not a commitment to spend, but rather an outline for guiding priorities on where to direct funds for projects.
According to data in the plan, 89 percent of Juneau residents use parks and trails and CBJ maintains 30 parks.
As a part of drafting the plan, over a course of two years the Parks and Recreation Department did surveys, audited the parks, met with 30 different stakeholder groups, held public meetings and reached out online to find out what the community envisioned for the future of the parks. Then the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) worked with the department to help draft the master plan. The next step is getting it approved by the Planning Commission and the Assembly.
Will Muldoon became involved on the PRAC because he was helping raise funds and coordinate repairs for the skate park. He heard about the vacancy on the committee, and said Pierce really impressed him. He said he wants to serve as a go-between with the staff of Parks and Recreation and the public.
“We are trying to be proactive to make the parks more accessible,” he said.
Another issue he said he was particularly interested in was addressing “park deserts” where there are not as many parks in neighborhoods. He pointed to Lemon Creek as an example.
The plan also focuses on using community partnerships to help with park development.
“I think the social aspect of parks and rec is something that I’ve learned even more through this process that is overlooked and is really important for the community,” Pierce said. “Whether it’s attracting and retaining workers, keeping seniors healthy and active in Juneau, or giving kids who may not have opportunities the chance to have something constructive to do and somewhere to go after school. Our services are an ounce of prevention against drug and alcohol use in youths.”
The full plan can be read online on the CBJ website. The plan is designed to be a living document that will be updated every five years to take into account demographics and changing community needs. The next step for the plan will be for the Planning Commission to review it. After that it will go in front of the Assembly for approval.
• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at email@example.com or 523-2228.