By Lindsay Starr Platt, Correspondent
Monday night more than 30 people showed up for a meeting at Harris Community Center for the City of Belton Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan. The public was invited to this open forum to discuss what they would like to see the city move forward with for the parks department during the years 2016-2026. The presentation on the future of Belton’s parks and recreation features was led by Brent Luck of Luck Design.
Luck presented a slideshow on what Belton has incorporated since its last vision and revitalization that was implemented in 2010. Luck also showed features other local cities have included in their parks and recreation plans andthe city’s success.
One slide titled, “What is a Parks Plan?” was explained by Luck as, “the guiding tool of what residents want in their community.”
The city is growing and in need of more recreation areas and a variety of features. These, as well as cost to residents were the first concerns.
“The city has also been very successful in levying for Texas Parks and Wildlife monies for its parks,” explained Luck.
The City of Belton has 19 parks in its system. All the parks are different sizes, from neighborhood parks to facility parks. Facility parks are parks that feature one major use, such as a ball field.
“Many people are often unaware of how many parks their city even has,” Luck said. “The city needs to promote what they offer and make sure it is getting utilized to the full potential.”
The slide titled, “What is the single most important issue needed concerning the City of Belton Parks and Recreation?” garnered many responses.
Attendees spoke up about the need for features such as a dog park, BMX trail, more trails to get to the parks and adequate lighting.
Another slide stated, “Tell us the top three park amenities or facilities that are important to your household,” provided feedback that Belton is a city with many interests.
Increased lighting for multi-use fields, acreage for future development, partnerships with other recreational areas and an indoor recreation facility were all concerns that were mentioned.
“If we don’t hear from the people who use these facilities, we won’t know what they want,” commented, Jerri Gauntt, Council Member, Belton City Council.”
Attendees also spoke about making sure land is secured as soon as possible for future park developments. The attendees wanted to make sure that developers of subdivisions will be able to have adequate park or greenspace for residents.
“Make sure whatever is added to our existing parks does not make them overcrowded and congested,” commented Mark Arrazola, President, Belton Chamber of Commerce.
One attendee responded that we need to make our facilities destinations that will bring in tournaments and out of town guests, that will spend money in Belton.
“I am really pleased with all the people that came out tonight. Many of the recommendations from 2010 plans have been implemented, such as trails and water recreation features,” said Sam Listi, City Manager City of Belton. “And now the next step is to get the people in for future meetings.”
A survey that the city will implement will be used to help gather information for the planning of the parks is available online at: http://www.beltontexas.gov/survey The survey is also available in paper form at city offices and The Belton Journal. Listi said that as Monday, 250 had filled out the survey. The survey will be available for a couple more weeks. After the survey is compiled, a second meeting will be held to discuss those opinions and to start planning.
“I’m very happy with the turnout, 36 people on a Monday night is wonderful. Belton has a lot of different people with different interests,” said Matt Bates, Director, Belton Parks and Recreation.