Manatee County drafting public parks priorities
MANATEE COUNTY — For the first time since 1975, Manatee County is assembling a “master plan” for its parks and recreation programs and facilities.
An analysis of existing conditions, a look at demographic trends and more than 1,500 responses from online, website and public meeting surveys of park users are being used to create a strategy for how best to provide public parks that serve the county’s 363,000 residents as well as those yet to come. By 2035, Manatee’s population could exceed 500,000.
“There is no one right way to do this,” David Barth, a parks planning consultant, advised the County Commission on Tuesday. Every parks master plan should be tailored to the community it serves, Barth emphasized.
For example, the county may want to provide facilities but prefer to contract with the private sector to operate programs.
The Parks and Natural Resources Department intends to have a draft document available in July and a final version ready for the County Commission’s review on Aug. 8.
“We haven’t finished the process,” Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker stressed.
“We have a lot to discuss moving forward,” Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac said.