WILMINGTON — City and county park officials and the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission want you to fill out a survey.
The survey, which can be answered by visiting http://goo.gl/forms/uuT00zqJoW, would be used to generate a county-wide master parks plan that would incorporate planning goals for city, county, village and township parks.
The questions in the survey include demographic information, whether and how many children live in your house, where you live, how often you visit parks, how far you’re willing to drive to a park, you preferred method of transportation, how many parks are within 10 minutes from your home and how often you use such a park, if there are barriers preventing access, what amenities you’d like to see and if you’re interested in seeing a joint city and county recreation district and how you might support that district.
That last question, about a joint recreation district, could be implemented in any number of ways – replacing the current districts or creating a separate entity, to name two.
According to Lori Kersey Williams, the director of Wilmington Parks and Recreation, the structure of the organization and details about how a joint district would work haven’t been determined.
County Park District member Bob Thobaben said, “Nothing is set in stone yet,” but said a partnership would allow both districts to collaborate and improve services for all people in Clinton County.
“We have things that the city park doesn’t have, and, of course, they have things that we don’t have,” Thobaben said. “You don’t (want to) sponsor things that might conflict with an activity going on in another district.”
Williams said the survey itself helps establish priorities, track progress on issues over years and secure grants.
“I think it makes sense in a lot of ways,” to have a joint recreation district, Williams said. “Right now you have the county parks that are unfunded. You have villages that don’t have any resources.”
The county parks, Thobaben said, don’t receive tax revenues but do receive support from the Clinton County Commissioners to match grants, make repairs or to loan money.
Williams said most of the city’s shelter reservations are for county residents but city residents are the ones paying for them. The survey says that 42 percent of those using city parks are from outside the city.
“Is it fair?” Williams asked. “I think that’s the philosophical question: Should everyone be paying their fair share?
“We like having everybody here,” she also said. “We want everybody to use it.”
Williams also said she believes a joint district would have some kinks to work out but that the structure of it would prevent a community from being ignored.
“You are going to have pushing and pulling, I’m sure,” she said. “I think you’d still have to do what makes sense.”
Taylor Stuckert, executive director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, hopes the master plan will analyze all parks in the county and how best to use them. He says the idea is one to consider.
“I think it’s something that’s worth exploring with the idea being that the city of Wilmington parks system no doubt receives use, wear and tear from non-Wilmington residents,” he said. “Wilmington residents are the only ones that actually contribute to the revenue of the (city) parks through a property tax levy.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.