- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation Department met to discuss the city’s new Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan.
Members of the citizen’s advisory committee,
appointed earlier in the year, were also present. According to Paris Planning Manager Alan Efrussy, plans to bring the final copy of the plan to council are scheduled either for Oct. 28 or Nov. 11.
In July, the department held workshops and sent out surveys asking for citizens’ input as to what issues they felt needed to be included in the new 10-year plan. Through these recommendations, the department and committee set out to determine the top needs of the city and how they will best be implemented.
“The purpose of this meeting is to gain our input to see what direction we go toward completion,” Efrussy said.
Though several topics were deliberated, a key point of the meeting concerned the renovation of some of the city’s parks, with those with the highest attendance and usage taking top priority.
The possibility of adding a spray park to the Wade and/or Leon Williams parks was discussed. Any renovation for any of the city’s parks, if approved, would be no small feat.
In order to use the budget in the most cost-efficient and self-sufficient manner, the parks chosen would most likely be demolished in order to undergo full renovation. The more durable equipment is expected to cost less in the long run due to less need for maintenance.
Dave Osborne serves on the advisory committee and is vice president of the Maxey Rifleman Gun Club.
“When you’re building something, generally you consider it into three different classes: residential, which is the lightest, cheapest stuff; commercial, which is the kind of stuff you’d see in shopping centers; or industrial,” he said.
“When you’re building something like this, you need to go industrial because industrial is expected to have a life of twenty-plus years and that’s why it costs so much more to build something heavy-duty.”
The possibility of a natatorium was also brought to the table. The building, which is proposed to be part of an indoor recreation and aquatic center combination, would be open year-round for all participants.
Currently, only two high schools have swim teams: Paris High School and North Lamar High School. They do not, however, have swimming pools of their own and therefore rent the water from Paris Junior College.
According to Recreation Supervisor Sally Wright, members of the city’s summer swim team find themselves unable to participate during the offseason due to the lack of facilities.
“Once you get to a certain level, if you do not make the high school swim team, you have nowhere to go,” Wright said.
The facility would allow anyone to team-swim all year, regardless of age or if they participate on a high school level. Data for the center, which is proposed for 2021, is still being gathered.
Though they were not specifically mentioned in the plan at the time, two more proposed components included the addition of restrooms and bike racks downtown.
Currently, a bike rack sits near Subway, but very few stores and buildings have restrooms with public access. Committee member Pat Cochran, who is associated with the TNT Grant Program and various other community endeavors, vocalized the need for both.
“We need that, because everywhere you go downtown, it’s ‘No Public Restroom’,” Cochran said.
Concerning the bike racks, she added, “… it would be nice to put them in different spots because you want people, you want more foot traffic and cyclists to kind of come through there. I think it just makes people aware, you know, that we’re trying to promote this within the community. So, just putting them there … I think it just raises awareness.”
The trail system, parking and the need for maintenance to some of the city’s tennis courts was also examined.
The new master plan is still undergoing revision before its presentation to the council, and the topics discussed are just a few of many. Though the proposition still needs final approval, Efrussy maintained the importance it holds for citizens.
“If we’re going to do this, spend the time and the effort and the money, we have a responsibility to the citizens to try to do this,” he said.
By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra