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Master parks plan in the works for Bethlehem

Proposed plan calls for hiring a consultant

The Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Department hopes to develop a comprehensive plan for all of the town’s parks.

The Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Department hopes to develop a comprehensive plan for all of the town’s parks.

— Town officials are hoping to move forward with the creation of a Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the town.

Director of Parks and Recreation Nan Lanahan gave the presentation on Wednesday, April 23. She said various town officials had talked of creating a parks master plan for years, but other projects had taken precedent.

“The purpose would be to develop a comprehensive plan for all of the parks townwide,” said Lanahan.

The need for a master plan was established in 2007 with the Comprehensive Plan Oversight Committee. It was identified again in 2013 with the Comprehensive Plan Assessment Committee.

The purpose of the master plan would be to take an inventory of existing parks and discuss the needs of the town’s existing facilities. The plan would take into account maintenance work that needs to be done, programming and seek recommendations for improvements.

Lanahan said a parks master plan will make the town a better candidate for grants, show new ways to share costs with outside groups, seek efficiencies and prepare a capital plan for future development. The group would be looking into park trends and demographics, what facilities are used the most, how to prioritize investments and usage policies.

The plan would also help the parks department work with youth sports groups to evaluate their needs. Many have said they are in good shape, but some are looking for help.

The biggest question from the Town Board dealt with cost.

The plan calls for hiring a consultant. They would also ask residents to join a Parks and Recreation Master Plan advisory group.

Lanahan asked for the Board to consider spending $50,000 to hire the consultant. This was after Supervisor John Clarkson already asked for the cost to be scaled back.

Councilwoman Joann Dawson asked if a consultant had to be hired or if the department could work with an intern. She also wanted to know how much the town’s Friends of Parks and Recreation group could be of help.

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