HUBER HEIGHTS — The Huber Heights City Council was presented a much anticipated Parks and Recreation Master Plan Phase II during Tuesday’s work session. The plan, developed by PROS Consulting, included many stakeholder interviews as well as focus group meetings, a random survey of residents, and an online survey.
The city sought the plan to guide the city in an appropriate direction for current and future programs and services.
Huber Heights currently has 13 parks facilities, which includes the Rose Music Center and the Recreation Complex at the Heights, but does not include either of the two Five Rivers Metro Parks.
One of the major findings of the master plan is that, despite having ample acreage for parks and good locations, many see the city’s parks as a blank canvas due to underdevelopment or need for significant capital improvements.
Residents indicated that while Cloud Park and the YMCA were focal points of activities, further development in other parks would increase their use. One of those uses suggested, a dog park, is currently under construction at Menlo Park, part of a $180,000 project that will also improve landscaping and expand walking paths.
Other suggestions included a skate park, outdoor exercise equipment, field lighting, river access, and more.
Another major finding in the report is that Huber Heights is a “sports town.” The report notes a regional attitude toward sports being strong but that Huber Heights is limited in its ability to compete for larger tournaments due to a lack of quality fields and a dedicated sports complex.
This lack of capacity has been a contributing factor to what the report calls a “cuthroat environment” between the various sports organizations in the city.
The report also identifies a lack of recreational programs outside of youth sports, cites a lack of park amenities and programs that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“The addition of adaptive recreational opportunities must play an integral role in the future growth of the parks system and the community as a whole,” the report reads.
Finally, the report challenges the city to seek other streams of revenue and alternative funding for parks. These include, but are not limited to, partnerships, sponsorship, field naming rights, etc. These sources of funding would help preserve parks and recreation funding even in years where budgetary constraints might otherwise be detrimental to park funding.
The report identifies six key areas the city should address:
- Increase accessibility, including ADA compliance, specifically to park entrances, playground equipment, and moving within the parks.
- Creation of a facility maintenance and design standard to create equity in park facilities around the city. Each park is currently missing key amenities which would increase 0
- Formalizing Huber Heights Sports by creation of a sports commission or similar entity that can take the lead on growing sports tourism both locally and regionally, help with field allocation and utilization rates, operations and maintenance, and capital funding.
- Formalizing Huber Heights Parks and Recreation which is currently filled by the YMCA while maintenance duties are filled by Public Works. The report recommends hiring a Parks and Recreation Facilities Manager to serve as a liaison on behalf of the city and, ideally, a Parks and Recreation Department.
- Increasing use of the parks system through the development of recreational programming that is currently almost exclusively held at YMCA facilities and not the city’s parks.
- Planning for the future park system.
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.