Heartland Visioning and Shawnee County Parks + Recreation partnered over the last two months to spend time communicating with more than a hundred citizens about community progress and the Parks + Recreation’s new master plan.
The Master Plan was created by Pros Consulting following the 2012 consolidation of the city and county parks and recreation departments. Here is some of the progress:
• Cost Recovery – At certain levels, parks and recreation is a public service, providing facilities free of charge or at very low cost. In value-added or niche areas such as golf, they now rely on user fees to sustain and improve facilities. Parks + Recreation’s two largest golf courses – Lake Shawnee and Cypress Ridge – now operate out of self-sustaining revolving funds, using no taxpayer dollars.
• The consultant recommended a new multi-generational parks facility to serve rapidly growing southwest Shawnee County. Hence, the department is building a new aquatic center near 21st and Urish Road. Completion is targeted for Memorial Day 2016.
• Parks + Recreation has partnered with Topeka Civic Theatre to operate Helen Hocker Theatre, TDC Learning Centers and Bright Circle Preschool to operate preschools in parks and recreation facilities. This has reduced operating losses by hundreds of thousands of dollars and increased participation in programs while still providing the same services to the community.