With maintenance needs, amenity requests and potential future land development, Dubuque city officials are hoping a new comprehensive master plan will lay the groundwork for the future of the city’s parks.
Dubuque City Council members recently voted to name the development of a comprehensive parks master plan as a high city priority, which would provide an in-depth review of the city’s existing parks, highlight strategies for future investment and outline potential future projects over the next several years.
Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware explained that, while the precise nature of the plan has not yet been defined by the City Council, she anticipated that it will likely examine the amenities currently available at city parks, along with surveying what amenities residents would like to see added.
“It’s about taking our parks and saying what we want it to be,” Ware said. “It gives us that direction as we are moving forward.”
Last year, Dubuque County Conservation developed a similar comprehensive plan for its parks. Ware said the city already plans to conduct some smaller studies this year on existing city parks, including a parks-needs assessment, a review of each park’s maintenance status and the development of a natural resources plan, all of which will be incorporated into the large parks master plan.
Ware said the project will largely rely on community feedback for determining what park elements and amenities the city should invest in, similar to the city’s Re-Imagine Comiskey Park project, which resulted in plans for a major renovation of Comiskey Park.
“We want residents to play a part in determining what the future of our parks will be,” Ware said. “That is a very important part of this.”
With the project still in early development, Ware said the plan would likely not be completed until fall 2023.
Dubuque City Council members argued that the plan, when finished, will play a major role in guiding the city’s spending on park projects.
“It makes sense to take an overall look at what we have and plan ahead for growth and development,” said City Council Member Laura Roussell. “It’s better to take an overall approach, instead of addressing everything in a piecemeal way.”
City Council Member Ric Jones said he believes a parks master plan would help the city greatly improve the quality of its parks and recreation services.
“We’ll find a path to make the parks one of the best in the country,” Jones said. “It’s easier to sit and say, ‘Look at all of our great parks.’ While that’s not untrue, let’s take a look at them and see what they need to be better.”