The 2004 Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan is an update to the County's 1996 Master Plan and 2000 Capital Improvement Plan. Specifically, this updated Master Plan will accomplish three major tasks. It will:
1) evaluate the County's ability to provide service based upon its enhanced array of capital facilities;
2) analyze service gaps and needs within the County due to changes in population and distribution of existing facilities, and
3) propose a refined Capital Program for the period following the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) program.
The Master Plan will provide Gwinnett County with a roadmap for addressing its parks and recreation issues and needs by providing solutions for improving the provision, quality and quantity of parks, facilities, and services. The Plan will guide the delivery of parks and recreation services in Gwinnett County for a period of five to ten years.
Why is the Plan Needed?
Recreation plays a vital role in Gwinnett County and there is a need to continue to enhance the quality of life through improvements to the parks and recreation system. A number of factors have necessitated the need for an updated Master Plan:
- The County's population is growing at a very rapid pace and is also aging and becoming more culturally diverse.
- The County's high growth rate requires that sufficient parkland be acquired before all land is lost to development.
- Leisure trends are shifting and new approaches in recreation planning are emerging.
- Service and budget pressures continue to escalate.
- Due to the success of previous efforts, residents have greater expectations for parks and recreation services.
- There is a need to coordinate the Master Plan with other recent initiatives, such as the Open Space and Greenway Master Plan.
- The County has a history of being proactive in addressing its parks and recreation needs and planning for the future in a forward-thinking, fiscally responsible manner. Long-term planning must continue to be a high priority.
The County has succeeded in responding to many of these challenges. The Comprehensive Master Plan will build upon this momentum and refocus the County's future efforts through a comprehensive review and assessment of needs and priorities.
The Comprehensive Master Plan will address a broad range of "leisure" and "recreation" facilities and services. Examples include:
- buildings (e.g., community centers, senior recreation centers, aquatic centers, arts centers, activity buildings, etc.);
- parkland (e.g., parks and open space for nature appreciation, picnicking, playgrounds, etc.; parks for sporting events, etc.);
- playing fields and courts (e.g., soccer, baseball, football, tennis, basketball, etc.);
- trails (e.g., walking, nature, multi-purpose, equestrian, etc.);
- other park features (e.g., pools, playgrounds, skate parks, pavilions, etc.);
- programs (e.g., activities, classes, leagues, and games for all ages and abilities); and
- services (e.g., internal operations, partnerships, etc.).
The Master Plan process is a product of extensive research, technical expertise, and consultation with the public, County staff, and politicians. The Master Plan is being prepared by the Gwinnett County Department of Community Services (Parks and Recreation), with the assistance of Monteith Planning Consultants and The Jaeger Company and guidance from a Citizen Steering Committee comprised of nearly thirty local residents.
The planning process began in 2002 with the preparation of a Needs Assessment Survey by the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service at Kennesaw State University. The major component of the Needs Assessment was a telephone survey with 895 randomly selected adults living in the county.
The purpose of the Needs Assessment was to:
- identify the favorite recreational and leisure activities of Gwinnett residents,
- determine the extent to which they utilize county operated parks and other recreational facilities for these activities,
- obtain residents' general evaluations of various aspects of the county facilities,
- gauge levels of support for the use of SPLOST monies to pay for future parkland acquisition and park development, and
- obtain opinions on a number of other issues related to parks and recreation in Gwinnett County.