JCPRD officials are in the final stretch towards updating the agency’s long-range strategic plan.
The plan JCPRD is currently operating under, known as the Legacy Plan, was updated and accepted in 2015.
Work on the update began in August of last year and is expected to conclude with acceptance by the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners in late summer.
A preliminary version of the update plan was presented during an annual joint meeting of the JCPRD board and the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners on April 19 at the Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse.
“The Legacy plan is a great plan, and it has served us exceptionally well,” said Planning and Development Manager Georgia Sizemore. “We need to recalibrate for the changes that have occurred in the world and for JCPRD. One natural shift is the Legacy plan was largely funded to focus on opening park acreage to the public, and now all major parks are open except for Camp Branch Park. In the plan update, Camp Branch is still a priority and then the focus shifts to reinvesting in our existing parks by calling for the next phases of the park master plans to begin.”
Over the past eight years, JCPRD has activated more than 3,000 acres of parkland by opening four regional parks and one streamway park (Lexington Lake, Meadowbrook, Cedar Niles, and Big Bull Creek parks, and Coffee Creek Streamway Park), completed numerous park improvements, acquired more than 380 acres of land, and added more than 20 miles of trails. Other major developments have included welcoming the Johnson County Museum into JCPRD, the establishment of a Culture Division, opening the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, more than doubling the number and service area of JCPRD’s Out of School Time programs, renovations to recreation and sports facilities, management and operation of the Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Center, and development and implementation of the Natural Resources Master Plan and the Safety Plan. During this time, JCPRD collected its second National Gold Medal Award and its fourth national accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies.
The updated plan is meant to establish clear and realistic goals, objectives, and implementation strategies that will guide JCPRD’s decision making of the next 15 years, from 2024 through 2039.
“It’s a guiding document that will help our Board make decisions. It will help evaluate and prioritize efforts in future budget years,” said Project Manager Yolonda Guyton.
The update was informed by a number of community engagement efforts undertaken as part of this process. These included 38 Partner Focus Group sessions, 59 Partner and Municipality Surveys, and a Statistically Valid Community Survey which yielded over a thousand completed surveys. JCPRD staff and consultants also engaged the public during five fall special events.
The new plan developed around four categories (pillars), which were streamlined from the seven pillars of the previous plan. The pillars are: Providing a Thriving Park and Recreation System; Inspiring Play, Culture, and Education; Fostering and Inspiring Stewardship; and Advancing Organizational Readiness and Access.
The four pillars will help JCPRD balance providing high quality and accessible spaces, programs, services, caring for our existing assets and staff, to better serve the public.
“Cost estimates are broad and high-level at this point,” Sizemore explained.
During the April 19 joint meeting, JCPRD Board and BOCC members reacted positively with great interest in the strategic plan update and congratulated the district on the recent results of Johnson County’s community-wide survey, which noted that the community holds JCPRD in high regard, tied with the Johnson County Library system.
The importance of OST programs provided by JCPRD’s Children’s Services Department were brought up by several commissioners as part of local efforts to address the national problem of affordable childcare. The ongoing need to preserve green space in areas of the county that are experiencing growth was also touched upon.
More work on the plan still needs to be completed prior to presenting the final plan, late summer. “We are doing our due diligence to sharpen our pencils to review and edit the narrative before the draft plan goes before the board,” Guyton said.