Planning the city’s parks and recreation world moving forward

Updating a master plan is needed for municipalities to continue on a proper course of action in many areas.

Locally, one of the latest plans to be updated was the city of Marquette’s five-year Parks and Recreation Plan, which will serve as a guide for future projects and to help seek grant funding.

The city must have an updated plan to apply for recreational grants through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other agencies.

However, it’s a good idea to plan for city functions, regardless of whether it’s mandated.

In a letter addressed to city residents, Jon Swenson, director of Marquette’s Community Services Department, wrote: “It will guide the Parks and Recreation Division as we seek to maintain what we have, improve where we can and reduce what we no longer need.”

As with most infrastructure, the city’s parks and recreation facilities are aging, and officials have to find ways to identify what improvements are needed.

A citizen survey identified top priorities for recreation programs, which included visiting nature areas and spending time outdoors, attending live theater and concert performances, movies in the park, running or walking, mountain biking/hiking /trail running, attending community special events and adult fitness/aerobics classes/weight training.

Top priorities for recreation facilities were natural areas/hiking and biking trails, off-leash dog parks, outdoor music opportunities; historic sites and museums, and paved walking and biking trails.

Other needs identified in the plan included abandoning the North Marquette Athletic Field Complex playground along Wright Street because it’s not accessible, isn’t used and is no longer needed since the adjacent Lake Superior Village has a new playground.

It also was noted the MooseWood Nature Center building on Presque Isle is inefficient and outlived its useful life, although it was recommended the city work with the center for a mutually beneficial solution. The city rents the facility to MooseWood.

Another deteriorating structure is the Presque Isle Band Shell, which also isn’t accessible.

A possible addition would be a pavilion at Tourist Park for accommodating special events and hourly rentals.

The plan is almost 350 pages, but it’s probably worth perusing if you’re interested in local recreation. The plan can be accessed at marquettemi.gov under the Community Services tab, then the Parks and Recreation tab.

As Mayor Fred Stonehouse noted at Monday’s meeting of the Marquette City Commission, which approved the plan, the plan is a “critical document,” not an “execute document.” This means it’s a list of things the city wants to accomplish if funding is available.

A plan is just one component of the entire city parks and recreation scene, and we believe it’s a good springboard for deciding priorities and securing the money needed to accomplish them.