Pope Park Recreation Center, now being called the Samuel V. Arroyo Recreation Center, played host to the final public input session for the Capital Parks Master Plan Monday night. This was the only of three meetings to be held in one of the city’s parks; the other two were at the Hartford Public Library.
Enthusiasm and engagement was low. New material was sparse. The audience was told that results from the online surveys were in, but that “the team” would not be spending any time sharing this information with the group who had come to hear more about potential plans and give feedback on them.
Most of the evening was a rehash of previous meetings, the process, and a mix of abstract concepts. There was no question-and-answer period. After the presentation was given, residents were told to write down their top three items (desires? dislikes?) on postcards. From there, the meeting seemed to fall apart.
Does Input Matter?
There has been more of an effort with this project than with others to get public comment. Besides the three meetings, there was an online survey used to collect thoughts on the parks and there continues to be a feedback form on the Sasaki website.
But what has happened to those ideas?
Materials from the presentation in October did not include all remarks made in the first meeting. Suggestions challenging the iQuilt plan seemed to be omitted from record. Another slide providing early data on barriers to park and recreation program use stated in a large font that “use is hindered by a lack of information, maintenance, and safety concerns,” as if those were the top three issues. Looking at the numbers directly next to the statement, the top three concerns are actually the lack of information about services, poor maintenance, and programs being offered that park users do not have an interest in. During the first meeting, there were plenty of remarks about programs park users would enjoy, but these did not seem to go anywhere.
On other slides, only the negative comments given about Pope Park and Colt Park were shown, despite there being positive comments submitted. As expected, Bushnell Park, Elizabeth Park, and Riverside Park were portrayed as favored.
There were also claims that many comments came in suggesting that the parks need better marketing and branding. From everything witnessed in the first meeting, there was no indication that the public was pushing for yet another branding campaign, which is a creature different from marketing the programs and events offered at the parks.
During Monday’s meeting, it seemed almost nothing from the first meeting had been incorporated. There was no mention of leash law enforcement, programming, cooking grills, or historic fencing at South Green. Allowing some areas of parks to “renaturalize” and creating better infrastructure for cyclists seemed to be the only items, besides that perennial complaint about ATVs, that made it into this round. It was suggested that hillsides and other areas allowed to renaturalize might discourage ATV use in parks.
It was unclear if those previous ideas from the other meetings and survey were mostly discarded or if the team opted to just not discuss them. Continue reading 'Capital Parks Master Plan: Park Program Fees and Bike Lines'»