The department and representatives from Green Rock Partners held the second of two public forums Saturday to find out what residents need and want to see happen with the parks and open spaces in the city limits. Green Rock Partners will help with the master plan and make suggestions to the city council for funding their recommendations. Some possibilities would be to seek federal or state grants, sponsorships or public and private collaboration.
The first pubic input session brought about 25 residents, according to Parks and Recreation Director Steve Ciaccio.
By the end of June, Ciaccio expects to have the master plan determined.
Jay Scott of Green Rock Partners told the group of about 20 residents Saturday that the goal is to gather as much information about what they want done in the city before Green Rock makes recommendations to the council.
“We want to think about connecting the parks and making the green space places where the community can get together and get to know each other,” Scott said. “Perhaps walking trails or uniting the space near the community center.”
Resident Charlie Phillips told Scott there’s a lack of neighborhood parks in the city. The parks that are available aren’t within walking distance of residential areas, he said, so parking at places such as Taylor-Brawner Park makes it too congested to visit.
“We need swing and play structures and open fields for kids to fly kites and families to have picnics,” Phillips said.
While resident Jason Sinclair agreed there is a need for areas like Phillips described, he emphasized to Scott the importance of keeping active and passive areas separate. If people are active playing in the same park that others want for relaxing, the activity with take over the passive behavior, he said.
Other residents took more of an athletic approach when thinking about the city’s recreation needs.
Chris Lash, Smyrna Sharks board president, told Scott she sees a covered pool as a necessity for the city. As someone who invests her time into competitive swim teams, Lash notices a lack of pool space for swim teams.
“We have the Tolleson pool, which is wonderful, but that’s only good for two or three months of the year,” she said. “There’s a ton of swimming to e had in Smyrna, but nowhere to do it most of the year.”
Soccer enthusiast Carl Joiner envisions Smyrna as a host city for tournaments that would bring teams from all over the country, but first he needs turf fields.
“By about three weeks into the season, the grass is ruined,” he said. “If we can take care of that we could have 150 teams here, bringing recognition to the city and spending money in Smyrna.”
For his vision, Joiner would need six to eight fields, he said. Entry fees would be up to $500 per team, plus hotel stays and restaurant traffic.
Resident Bruce Hollmuller would like to see Smyrna follow Acworth’s lead and create baseball fields for people with special needs. The “miracle field” would mimic Acworth’s Horizon Field, which has baseball leagues for children and adults with special needs.
The fields are rubber to account for use with wheelchairs and walkers, and dugouts and restrooms are larger than typical public facilities, Hollmuller said. It would take private fundraisers to help maintain the park.
Costs for all suggested projects are unknown, as is funding sources. The city will set up surveys for citizens to give more input thorough the city’s website. Surveys will be up Monday.