Kenmore City Hall. Courtesy photo

Kenmore City Hall. Courtesy photo

Kenmore PROS plan update meeting set for Sept. 25

The parks, recreation and open space plan was recently updated for the first time since 2013.

The city of Kenmore’s community development manager and the parks project manager updated the city’s planning commission on Sept. 3 on the parks, recreation and open space (PROS) plan, which was recently updated for the first time since its unanimous passage in November 2013.

The discussion focused on draft recommendations and plan implementation.

The PROS plan, which will affect the city through 2035, acts as the bedrock for future developments in parks and recreation facilities and recommendations for capital projects that have been deemed necessary by the greater community. Recommendations, as outlined in a PROS plan, underline the need for amenities such as athletic fields, increased waterfront access and more. It is a component of the city’s larger comprehensive plan.

Shortly after the PROS plan’s approval six years ago, the planning commission began reaching out to the community to field which projects were especially of interest in the city. In March, Kenmore officials received about 500 survey responses from Kenmore residents updating the city on any new regional needs regarding parks and recreation.

The update given at the Sept. 3 meeting, according to community development director Debbie Bent, aimed to share new progress and give commissioners a chance to voice their comments and concerns rather than serve as something more finite.

“This is probably going to change as we proceed forward,” Bent said of the updated PROS draft. “Once we get to a more complete draft, then we’ll go back through again to make sure everything lines up. Things will change. Don’t be afraid that this is your last opportunity to go through it.”

The commission came up with five recommendations after staff analyzed the results of a recent demand and need study. The recommendations, according to the meeting agenda packet, reflect opportunities and city constraints like land availability, topographic limitations and other relevant physical features. Cost limitations aren’t reflected in the recommendations as implementation methods represent a fiscally unconstrained context.

The first recommendation entails improvement to parks, recreation and open-space facility accessibility by increasing a given park’s ADA access, the number of parks and using community feedback to push forward recreational opportunities of interest. Recently added to the recommendation are proposed dedicated funding to buttress the development of safer walking routes to parks and recreation facilities and funding toward more ADA and universal access.

The second recommendation, which focuses on more access to the waterfront, will be made a reality through several waterfront accessibility projects included in the park facilities plan (CFP). New to the recommendation is enhanced waterfront programming, which would not only provide more access to the waterfront but also support vendors interested in operating in the area.

The third recommendation seeks to foster active and “healthy” lifestyles by emphasizing the construction of new facilities and supporting opportunities to play sports — such as revamping the ball field at Saint Edward State Park.

The commission’s fourth recommendation aims to preserve the city’s natural and built environments through a series of either new construction projects or renovations.

The final recommendation includes a larger number of new additions, including natural area restoration, environmental educational programming, renewed efforts to identify operational and maintenance costs for new capital projects and focus on necessary park facility repairs and replacements.

To better accommodate the potential for shifting community interest, this last recommendation includes projects that help undergird possible demographic changes and inclusivity in the community. New additions revolve around programming, with weight given to community gathering events, arts and culture programs and community engagement functions.

In the draft recommendations provided to the commission, each project listed under a given recommendation is specified as being one with which the commission is already familiar or if it is a new development. Funding for most of the new additions are still pending, but several strategies and resources, such as grant programs, reserves, a real estate excise tax, impact fees and more, are being considered.

“Each one of these recommendations is really not deviating too far from where we’ve been with the 2013 plan,” said Maureen Colaizzi, a parks project manager for Kenmore. “There’s a lot of consistent planning from 2013 to now.”

The total cost of the short-term six-year capital improvement plan (CIP), which covers 2019 through 2024, is about $11.8 million. Twenty-six PROS-related projects have been completed since 2013. For 2019, there are nine projects underway as part of the CIP, including improvements to the Saint Edward’s ball field.

A public open house further discussing the PROS plan is scheduled for Sept. 25. According to Colaizzi, the gathering will provide residents an opportunity to receive a refresher on the PROS plan similar to the one offered to the commission at the Sept. 3 meeting.

“The intention here is that we’re basically breaking it down in little sections, stations,” Colaizzi said. “Each station would be about goals and policies — everything that we’ve basically reviewed with the planning commission…Essentially, we’re going to give [Kenmore residents], in a very simplified way, the basic information that you have heard from us over the course of the last six months and share that with them, and then have an opportunity for engagement at that meeting.”

For more information about the PROS plan and the upcoming open house, go to the city of Kenmore’s website.

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