GAGE PARK (WIBW) -- An audience of about 75 people came armed with suggestions and criticisms as Shawnee County Parks and Recreation held the second of three forums for public input Monday night.
Some said there's too much emphasis on the parks, and not enough attention being paid to the recreational side of the county's operations. But with no solid master plan for Topeka-area parks, the county wanted them to give their opinions on how to structure a decade long master plan.
Randy Luebbe explained that parks around Topeka are being analyzed for the quality of their services, based on the county being split up in to four population-equal quadrants. One audience member asked why the parks weren't surveyed based on the three commission districts. Luebbe said leaders involved in the process thought it would be better to use the quad system.. instead of political boundaries.
In a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of what's out there, walking trails got high marks from the audience. But pools, campgrounds and ball parks were reported to be in dire need of upgrades or continuing maintenance.
"In the campgrounds, trees are cut down, with no trees to replace them for shade," one woman responded.
"We live in Montara, and there just are not pools to serve the southern part of the city," another audience member commented.
Questions dominated over input in the early part of the session. participants asked why the county is coming up with a master plan for improvements, when county leaders just voted in massive budget cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department and to many social service programs.
Luebbe said if innovative ideas came forward for the master plan, they could find other funding sources to create those, such as support from foundations, which could also pay for a marketing company to promote the changes.
Communicating the programs from community centers, and letting Topekans know what's happening in building the master plan. They cited a lack of communication of what's available through Parks and Rec. Some asked how they would find out where this process is going.
It was suggested they attend Advisory Board meetings on the third Wednesdays of the month at City Hall, and check the county's parks and recreation website. Several concerned citizens said they did not know the process of notifying the county about problems with parks or recreational programs.
Which was part of what this forum was all about.
Shawnee County residents who want the chance to lodge complaints or give their input, are invited to their third public forum, Tuesday night at 7:00 at the Lake Shawnee Events Center.