The Edmonds City Council at its Feb. 4 meeting held the first of two public hearings on the draft Parks, Recreation and Open Space (commonly referred to as PROS) and the Community Cultural plans, which were developed after extensive public input that started last summer.
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite explained that the public involvement process included two project advisory teams, one for each plan. There were also focus groups and “community intercept events” in the summer, to reach members of the public “who don’t necessarily have time to come out to meetings,” Hite said. In addition, opinions were gathered through an online questionnaire, community meetings and a phone survey.
Among the opinions expressed: People place a high value on the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services, and believe that those services need “consistent community funding,” Hite said.
Top arts and culture activities in Edmonds include visiting galleries and/or exhibits, and attending performances and arts or cultural festivals. Highest priorities of those surveyed were to engage more youth and young adults in the arts and to have more free events.
One of the high priorities for recreational use among those surveyed, Hite said, was to build more trail and sidewalk connections in Edmonds. Second on the list was for the city to buy and renovate the Civic Center playfield, which is currently owned by the Edmonds School District. Other top priorities included restoring the Edmonds Marsh, building an indoor aquatic center, creating more partnership projects with the school district to improve and expand facilities, renovating and expanding the Frances Anderson Center, and improving existing parks with new playgrounds, better amenities and restrooms.
In addition, those surveyed were asked for their opinion about forming a Metropolitan Park District to fund park maintenance and operations, at a cost to homeowners of about $10 per month for a $400,000 home. More than 70 percent strongly or somewhat strongly supported that idea, Hite said.
The Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan also analyzed the level of service currently provided by the City of Edmonds parks system, examining not only existing developed parks but also open spaces.The plan looked at the proximity of parks to neighborhoods, with an eye to which neighborhoods have more parks, such as the Edmonds waterfront, and those that have few or none, such as Highway 99.
Based on that analysis as well as public input, the draft plan focuses on four concepts:
-Expand and connect recreation opportunities, to ensure the city can provide easy access.
-Capitalize on the unique identity of Edmonds, with a particular eye on three areas: Highway 99, the waterfront and State Route 104.
-Look forward to future of Edmonds – “what we are calling big ideas,” Hite said. These include the Edmonds Marsh project, the Old Woodway High School fields project (see background here), Esperance Park in partnership with Snohomish County (see our story here), the waterfront, and Civic Field.
-Steward and activate key community assets. “What can we do with our current parks to make them more usable,” Hite explained. Edmonds has “some tired parks” that have not been upgraded in some time. The idea is to put those facilities “on a more aggressive cycle” of improvements to make them more appealing, she added.
While the PROS plan resulted in seven goals, Hite said she wants to focus on two main ones: (1) Collaborations and leadership, such as partnership with the Edmonds School District, to meet the community’s needs for parks, recreation and (2) cultural services; and natural resource and habitat conservation.
The Community Cultural Plan draft, meanwhile, listed five goals:
Integrate – integrate the arts in the city’s physical infrastructure to make Edmonds an arts destination.
Include – embrace an expansive view of art and culture “to include and respond to multiple forms of artistic and cultural expression.”
Partner – foster creative community partnerships to increase and secure accessibility to the arts.
Use space – maximize and diversify the use of spaces for arts and cutural activities in Edmonds.
Communicate – strengthen communication among arts and cultural organizations and projects to enhance scheduling, information sharing and collaboration and to increase cultural awareness in community.
A few people offered public comment following Hite’s presentation, including Community Cultural Plan advisory committee member Dick Van Hollebeke, who reiterated his support for the plan and described Edmonds “an arts and culture mecca.”
If you missed the Feb. 4 meeting and want to weigh in with your opinion, you can do so when the public hearing continues at the Tuesday, Feb. 25 City Council meeting.
You can review the background documents attached to the Feb. 4 council agenda at the link here.