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TNP works on plan for city’s parks

WARREN — A draft proposal on ways the nine city-owned parks can be improved was presented by Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership to city residents Monday during a session at the log cabin downtown.

In surveys conducted last summer, residents expressed the most concern about park safety, programming and replacing older equipment, according to the draft proposal.

TNP conducted an about-yearlong study of the city parks, including making a physical inventory of all the equipment in them, interviewing some 3,000 people living in the surrounding neighborhoods and looking at safety and maintenance.

Parks examined were AmVets, Burbank, Circle, Deemer, North End, Packard, Perkins, Quinby and Southwest. The proposal does not include the Interfaith Park, located on North Road Southeast, across from Orchard Street Southeast, because it is privately owned.

“We hired 15 community members and trained them how to do the neighborhood surveys that were used in this draft report,” Matt Martin, TNP executive director, said.

The study and its subsequent plan is being paid through two $25,000 grants provided by The Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and the William Swanston Charitable Fund.

“What’s in the report is a series of recommendations that we are making to the city to improve the parks and increase their use,” Martin said. “The city does not have any obligation to follow any recommendations in this report, but it has had knowledge of what we were doing throughout this process.”

Denise Rising, TNP’s outreach coordinator, emphasized that safety, planned programming in the parks, and improved accessibility are overall the major concerns expressed by residents in surveys.

“They want to have older equipment repaired or replaced,” Rising said.

The draft report states the majority of the parks need maintenance of older trees, upgrade and replacement of restroom facilities, as well as work on the sidewalks around and inside of the parks.

Some parks, such as Deemer and Southwest, are in significant need of improvement.

Recommendations for Deemer include repairs and opening of restrooms; replacement and repairs of grills, picnic tables and benches; and improved signage and lighting. For Southwest Park, the recommendations include the development of a maintenance plan, plus the repair, replacement or removal of drinking fountains.

The city’s two largest and most-used parks — Packard and Perkins — like the others, need infrastructure repairs, control of the geese population and development of long-term stormwater management plans.

Martin emphasized that TNP is not, through this project, trying to take over the operation of the city parks. It is looking to create partnerships with various groups and the city that will allow it to seek a variety of grants that can be used for park improvements.

Before finalizing and releasing the report, the organization again will seek public input and feedback on the draft version. The meeting will be held 6 p.m Feb. 3 at the Northwest Neighborhood Association meeting at Grace United Methodist Church.

Rising said the plan’s authors would like the city to develop a parks department that would have dedicated workers and a budget of its own.

Councilman John Brown, D-at Large, chairman of council’s recently formed parks committee, said someone will have to take ownership of the recommendations and make sure they are followed.

“We do not want them placed on a shelf to collect dust,” he said.

Drafts of the plan are available upon request; inquiries can be sent to info@tnpwarren.org or by calling 330-647-6301.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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