Published: Sep 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Sep 13, 2012 10:44 AM
Durham Parks and Recreation figures it’s time to make over its master plan, and it’s going about that in Durham form.
Places like Raleigh and Cary hire consultants that cost a lot of money, said Assistant Director Beth Timson. Durham is going directly to the public.
“It’s like the difference between a catered meal and a potluck,” Timson said. “Potluck is more Durham’s style.”
The ‘potluck’ is taking the forms of public meetings – eight of them, starting Oct. 9 – a demographically targeted survey going in the mail shortly, and a mixing of minds via cyberspace that has gone live already at bit.ly/Q9ZxF3
Dubbed “an online conversation,” the MindMixer website asks questions and can even follow up depending on the answers.
For example, if respondents want more skateparks, the site could ask how they would like to pay for them.
“It’s a huge community meeting,” said parks department spokeswoman Cynthia Booth. Changing tastes
Parks and Rec finished its current master plan in 2003.
Some of its plans have been realized, with new parks in Bethesda and near Githens Middle School and renovations at some old parks.
Also since then, Durham has opened three dog parks, a ropes course and a skateboard park, demand for which was unforeseen nine years ago.
Those reflect changing tastes in recreation, Timson said. The input website already has suggestions for art installations suitable for skateboarding upon and for outdoor ice-skating rinks.
Meanwhile, the city’s population is changing, with Baby Boomers aging but still active and young families arriving from distant parts, said Rich Hahn, the parks department’s business manager.
The population is spreading into areas currently park-less, too, said Timson. Southeastern Durham, north and south of U.S. 70 toward Wake County and Brier Creek, is projected to gain as many as 15,000 homes in the next 30 years.
That’s why Parks and Rec is planning again, with a little help from – and for its taxpaying friends.‘The Durham way’
According to a memo explaining the planning plan to the City Council, Cary paid a consultant $185,000 for its parks and recreation master plan; Raleigh is paying its consultant $250,000.
Using city employees, citizen input and a couple of small contracts, parks staff expect Durham’s plan will cost less than $50,000.
“It’s a collective plan, instead of a consultant plan,” said Timson.
“We could have just written a plan,” said Booth. “But that’s not the Durham way.”