Mooresville is moving to improve parks and recreation, working with a consulting firm that is putting together a long-term plan to expand its offerings as it prepares for more population growth.
The master plan will include a range of recommendations for improvements over the next 10 to 15 years, such as adding and expanding parks and greenways, offering more recreation programs and building more facilities and cultural institutions.
The recommendations will come partly from public input the consulting firm plans to gather in coming months.
Once complete, it will serve as an “important document to guide elected leaders and town management in terms of future investments in parks, recreation and cultural opportunities for the town,” said Dick Poore, director of the town’s Cultural and Recreation Services department.
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The firm developing the plan, PROS Consulting LLC, expects to finalize it by September. The Indianapolis-based firm was awarded a contract for about $79,000 by the town in December.
The planning process will take place in three phases, asking, “where are we now, where do we want to go and how do we get there?” Poore said.
Late last month, the firm held its first two of a series of public meetings, drawing a total of about 100 residents and other stakeholders.
Among the suggestions at those meetings were more space for indoor recreation, better lighting at basketball courts, well-lit walking paths and public transportation to Lake Norman, along with additional services for veterans and those with special needs.
In addition to arranging meetings, the firm will conduct a survey that will appear on a crowdsourcing website it recently created for the town and that it plans to send to some 2,000 homeowners in Mooresville as soon as next month. After that, the firm plans to schedule additional public meetings.
The firm also is using social media, aiming to ensure that “everybody has a chance to help shift the vision of Mooresville,” Neelay Bhatt, vice president and principal of the consulting firm, said in an interview.
He said the firm carried out a similar planning process for Mecklenburg County in 2008, updating it five years later.
The master plan is coming together a little less than a year after Mooresville voters passed a bond referendum totaling $10 million to finance recreation improvements, including work on parks and the town-owned golf course.
But while the town already has its share of recreation amenities and cultural resources — including 15 parks, four recreation centers, a library and a museum, along with a longtime artist’s guild housed in a depot dating to the 1860s — a major impetus for developing the master plan are expectations of population growth and changing demographics.
Mooresville’s population is expected to significantly increase over the next 14 years, from about 35,000 residents to 43,000, based on estimates from U.S. Census Bureau figures, according to PROS. That projection includes millennials and younger people, but those age 55 and older are expected to account for much of the increase.
As a result, the town and the firm are aiming for inclusiveness. “How do we create opportunities for a multi-generational experience?” Bhatt asked. He noted the goal is to help “create a sense of community” not only for town residents but also those living elsewhere in southern Iredell County.
The town should revisit the plan in five years to determine whether it is still relevant, the firm has recommended. The last time the town developed a master plan for parks and recreation was in 2008.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the plan, go to http://mooresvilleparcs.com/index.html.