SILER CITY — Anticipated growth from new economic development projects have given town staff in Siler City the opportunity to re-examine its roadmap for the future.
The town’s Parks and Recreation Department is one of the primary beneficiaries.
Director Jack Clelland said his department selected — and commissioners approved — a contractor to assist in drafting a new comprehensive master plan to lay out parks and recreation goals for the next 30 years.
“The comprehensive master plan is going to take a look at the parks and recreation department as a whole,” Clelland said. “It’s going to look at our programs, our special events, our current amenities, and it’s going to compare that to a national standard, as well as other areas of similar populations.”
The Siler City Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan will be drafted over the next year or so through a process involving community engagement, analyzing Siler City’s recreation amenities and needs, and assessing best practices in comparable communities.
Clelland said the resulting plan will also look at incoming growth from economic development — especially from Wolfspeed’s proposed Siler City facility — to see how parks and recreation will need to adapt.
“We want to make sure that we’re complementing the community as well,” he said. “So the master plan really is a roadmap — it’s really cool, and they’re fun to do because you learn a lot from them.”
He and his staff will meet in coming weeks with the contractor — WithersRavenel Civil & Environmental Engineering, based in Cary — to lay out the process for drafting the plan. That meeting will officially kick off the process and lay out the steps needed to draft the plan, including surveying the community, hosting information sessions, analyzing what other growing municipalities are doing and more.
“We want to get a baseline of where the community is with these facilities or amenities, or what they’re looking for in the department,” Clelland said. “Then, they (WithersRavenel) will take that information and compile it into a report with recommendations, potential financial costs of amenities or programs, etc.”
Clelland said the plan will include a list of milestones to complete, ranging from building new parks and amenities to renovating current facilities and more.
“You want to try to achieve or need to strive to achieve certain benchmarks within those years,” Clelland said. “This gives us the tools and information to guide you on that path of developing our department.”
Benchmark achievements within the master plan range from renovations to adding new facilities (such as a recreation center) or new programming and athletics teams. To prioritize projects, Clelland said it’s crucial for residents to provide input on what they want in parks and recreation opportunities.
“It’s very crucial to have public input, crucial to have your commissioners involved with the process and understand what’s being suggested as we go through the process as well,” he said. “We want them (the public) to come to parks and recreation for stuff that they enjoy … We don’t want to create something or design something that doesn’t benefit the community.”
Clelland said he hopes to be able to have a final draft of the comprehensive plan in front of commissioners for approval within 18 months.
“It’s good to hear your community members and what they’re wanting from the department and what we may be missing and what we need to work on,” Clelland said. “We want to make sure that what we’re anticipating and what we’re going to offer is what the residents and community want.”
Public input for the master plan hasn’t been announced yet, but if residents have ideas or concerns regarding the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-742-2699.
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.