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Item 6A_Info Item Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update C I T Y O F B O U L D E R PLANNING BOARD INFORMATION ITEM TO: Planning Board FROM: Chris Meschuk, Interim City Manager Ali Rhodes, Director of Parks and Recreation Jacob Lindsey, Director of Planning Charles Ferro, Development Review Manager, Interim Comprehensive Planning Manager Jeff Haley, Planning, Design & Community Engagement Manager Regina Elsner, Parks Planner Tina Briggs, Parks Planner Morgan Gardner, Associate Planner Chris Ranglos, Planner I, Comprehensive Planning DATE: December 17, 2020 SUBJECT: Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The purpose of this item to update the Planning Board on the development of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update. This includes information on the proposed focus topics, process, and overall approach for the Master Plan Update. This item is for informational purposes only and does not require Planning Board action at this time. PROJECT BACKGROUND The BPR Master Plan fits into the hierarchy of plans cascading from the Community Sustainability and Resilience Framework. The Master Plan receives policy guidance from the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and derives other policy influences from city-wide strategies and initiatives, such as climate initiatives and racial equity work. The Master Plan then directly guides the department’s CIP and operating budgets. The Master Plan also influences the department’s decision making and day- to-day operations. Since the adoption of the current 2014 Master Plan, the Boulder Parks and Recreation has focused on six identified key themes and priorities to improve facilities and delivery of services to the community. In the last five years, important community initiatives and priorities have emerged, and new trends have developed that will be addressed in the Master Plan Update. Similarly, in implementing the 2014 Master Plan, certain goals were accomplished, while others became business as usual and are now part of Boulder Parks and Recreation’s (BPR) ongoing PARKS & RECREATION MASTER PLAN Agenda Item 6A Page 1 of 6 operations. Staff plan to focus on the new priorities, initiatives and trends in the community while continuing the work still relevant within the 2014 Master Plan. The Master Plan Update will provide the department a strategic guide for continued improvements in the programs, facilities and services provided to the community. A critical component of the Master Plan Update is public engagement. COVID-19, the current pandemic, has heavily influenced the engagement plan to include a much higher level of online engagement than would traditionally be planned. We are Parks and Recreation and being out in the community is part of our heart and soul, however, the safety of our community members and staff is the highest priority. Even with those limitations, the project team is committed to engaging with a broad, diverse cross-section of the community to ensure all the needs and priorities related to Parks and Recreation are heard and evaluated. Following a delay due to COVID-19 response and recovery, the Master Plan Update kicked-off in September/October 2020. A Council Information Packet in August 2020 provided a brief overview of the project process and approach. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) has been engaged several times for the Master Plan Update, including providing input on the overall approach, as well as understanding impacts to the project’s timing and budget due to COVID-19. Most recently, at the November 23, 2020, PRAB meeting, staff provided a progress report on the project, and requested feedback from PRAB on the public engagement plan, as well as the review of the 2014 white papers and new topics for consideration. A City Council Study Session on December 8, 2020, focused on the overall approach for the project and engagement, as well as gathering input on the existing key themes and incorporation of new topics. At that session, council members confirmed their support of the project process and approach. There was also confirmation that the additional focus on equity and resilience are appropriate. PROJECT TIMELINE PROCESS AND ENGAGEMENT The Master Plan Update is broken into five phases: Project Initiation & Kick-off, Research and Trends, Needs Assessment, Implementation Plan, and Master Plan Acceptance. The project team will utilize an integrated input model that weaves technical content and community engagement throughout the process. Agenda Item 6A Page 2 of 6 Project Initiation & Kick-off is largely complete with internal scoping and coordination, as well as the execution of a contract for consulting services from Design Workshop. The full community engagement plan developed as part of this phase is available as Attachment A of PRAB’s November 23, 2020 packet. The Research and Trends phase is currently underway. This phase focuses on updating topical white papers and developing a system overview snapshot that forms the foundation for future discussions in the process. The first engagement window occurs during Research and Trends and is intended to build awareness of and interest in the project, as well as evaluating community values and the key themes established as part of the 2014 Master Plan. In addition to standard outreach methods, such as print materials, social media posts and webpage updates, the project team will focus on unique and creative ways to engage the community. One idea is to have a mask design contest focused on what you love about Boulder Parks and Recreation. Within the engagement window, the project team will work to co- create specific engagement opportunities with various under-represented groups, specifically working with youth through Growing Up Boulder and the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board and minority populations by bringing Community Connectors into the process with staff. During Needs Assessment, the project team will focus on identifying needs for the department through in-depth analysis of facilities, programs and service delivery. Financial scenario planning will begin that will facilitate future discussions around prioritizing needs and strategies. This scenario planning will utilize the city’s framework for budgeting that includes Fiscally Constrained, Action and Vision scenarios. The second engagement window during this phase will include a statistically valid community survey to ensure a representative sample of the entire community, including non-users is consulted during the process. Virtual stakeholder meetings and open house-type event will focus on fully identifying the needs of the community and micro-engagements will meet people where they are to gather their input. The Implementation Plan phase of the project will focus on prioritizing the needs and strategies previously identified, recognizing resource and capacity limitations. These discussions of community priorities will occur through multiple lenses, including financial sustainability and equity, among others. The Fiscally Constrained budget scenario will focus on how resources are allocated to key services and priorities to provide the most value to the community with current funding. The third engagement window during this phase will have two foci. First, creating activities that maximize the reach and breadth of the community engagement. This maximization ensures that the second focus, discussion of community priorities, is truly representative of the community. The Master Plan Acceptance phase is the culmination of all the previous technical content and community engagement into a draft Master Plan. The fourth and final engagement window will allow the community to review and provide their input on the draft plan. Staff also intends to close the engagement feedback loop during this window with a report that summarizes all the feedback received and how it influenced the plan itself. This phase includes all the formal steps required for the plan to be accepted by City Council and includes review and recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB), review and recommendation from the Planning Board, and public hearing and adoption by City Council. Celebration activities will both wrap up the Master Plan Update and kick-off the implementation of the plan’s recommendations. KEY THEMES FROM 2014 UPDATE The six key themes have formed the strategic framework and foundation for the department’s work over the past six years. The current evaluation of the key themes includes several information inputs: Findings, Public and Policy Directive. The Public input will come during Engagement Window #1, Agenda Item 6A Page 3 of 6 requesting the community to provide feedback on how the themes have worked in the prior six years and any opportunities for refinement. The key themes form the basis for the actions and decision-making of the department since the plan’s acceptance. These key themes from the 2014 Master Plan are: Community Health and Wellness Parks provide measurable health benefits, from encouraging direct contact with nature and a cleaner environment, to opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. This theme emphasizes the community’s desire for BPR to focus on public health and wellness through parks, facilities and programs, emphasizing the important role parks and recreation services can continue to play in keeping Boulder a healthy and vibrant community. Taking Care of What We Have Prioritizing the maintenance of existing facilities and parks was a consistent message during the 2014 Master Plan from the public and civic leaders. This theme focuses on the need to ensure the long-term viability of the park and recreation system through comprehensive asset management practices. This captures a broad spectrum of work ranging from daily operations to ongoing preventative maintenance to the large capital projects that are completed each year as part of the Capital Improvement Program. Financial Sustainability Balancing multiple and increasing demands from the public within existing resources is a challenge, recognizing the limits to public funding and the need to focus on core services. Boulder parks are a source of positive economic benefits, enhancing property values, increasing municipal revenue and attracting homebuyers, a quality workforce, and retirees. Financial Sustainability efforts ensure BPR considers the total cost of facility ownership and service delivery in resource allocation and fee setting. Building Community and Relationships Building community engagement and cultural activities through outreach programs and initiatives are an important component of building strong neighborhoods and making social connections. Parks and recreation programs build social capital, promote a healthy community and address social and cultural Agenda Item 6A Page 4 of 6 inequities recognizing that environmental, economic and social sustainability are built upon full community involvement. Youth Engagement and Activity Youth are a priority for the community and there is a strong need to actively engage youth with parks, facilities and programs that are place-based. Parks offer children the daily benefits of direct experience with nature, engage children in experiential learning through play and shared experiences, and provide a resource for closing the opportunity gap to drive children’s participation in community development, citizenship and democratic processes. Organizational Readiness Shifts in the management of modern public park and recreational facilities require new staff capabilities with an emphasis on service delivery methods. As a department, it is critical to create more business management practices leveraging the use of new technologies, data driven decision-making and collaborative decision-making tools to allow for a response to changes over time. NEW TOPICS TO HIGHLIGHT AND WHAT’S NEXT FOR BPR Throughout the planning and initiation phase of the project, the project team asked for staff and PRAB input on new topics and trends that may need to be explored as part of the current update process. From that exercise, two key focus areas were identified for additional exploration: Resilience and Equity. Weaving Equity into Urban Parks and Recreation Service Delivery The master plan update for the Boulder Parks and Recreation (BPR) Department coincides with an inflection point for its industry and for the nation and communities in the wake recent incidents that highlight systematic discrimination, racial profiling and historic barriers to equity for people of color: • The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other people of color; • The March 1, 2019 Zayd Atkinson incident in Boulder, CO; • The 2017 Boulder Community Perceptions Assessment and 2019 Boulder Community Survey results showing a lower level of confidence by people of color in equitable police and emergency services; and • National findings that racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (Centers for Disease Control 2020). Equity work in parks and recreation is complex and each city must define the process and outcomes that are meaningful to their communities. Racial equity is already influencing the work of the Master Plan update. Staff acknowledges that not only is addressing equity an outcome of the Master Plan, meaning how will a focus on equity influence the department’s work and decision-making for the next five to seven years, but that the process of updating the plan itself must be equitable. To ensure an equitable process, staff is working through the Racial Equity Instrument developed by the city. Equity considerations also weigh heavily on the discussions of the public engagement for this project. Staff is working to ensure that engagement tactics are culturally relevant and that efforts are being made to hear from all segments of the community. Equity as an outcome of the Master Plan Update will require multiple conversations with staff, PRAB, City Council and the community to ensure BPR is getting it right. Resilience for Parks and Recreation Departments Resilience is the capacity to prepare and plan for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses, and Agenda Item 6A Page 5 of 6 to adapt and grow from those experiences. Resilience is becoming an increasingly important issue as climate change and weather events continue to worsen. Parks and public spaces should be prepared for these extreme events and their long-term impacts. By creating resilient places there can be other economic and social benefits as well. Parks play a huge role in building climate resilience, and therefore parks and recreation departments are on the front lines of climate change. To mitigate the impacts of climate change, resilient parks integrate approaches like living shorelines, wetland habitats, greenways, and adaptive recreational amenities. When these places are developed it is also necessary to address the need to increase the park departments’ capacity and budget accordingly to properly maintain and care for these spaces over the long term. While money seems to flow freely for capital improvements, funding for maintenance and operations is often less tangible and less appealing. Therefore, in order for parks and recreation departments to act and prioritize climate resilience as part of their mission largely depends on the availability of resources; creative funding approaches to maintenance, operations, and programming; and the willingness of leaders to prioritize and include parks in resilience conversations (NRPA Magazine, 2019, What Constitutes a Resilient Park). Not only environmentally resilient, parks can also address social resilience by creating neighborhood gathering places and opportunities for diverse community members to interact, prior to and after a disaster. Community resilience considers environmental resiliency and cultural resiliency. Cultural resilience can also be wrapped into physical space, especially parks by achieving these four goals (Kofi Boone): 1. Build a sense of community that brings all people together as stewards 2. Create places where everyone belongs and that have opportunities for shared experiences among all 3. Increase access to nature and create environmentally friendly places easily reached by walking, biking or transit 4. Encourage additional investments in neighborhoods NEXT STEPS The project team will finalize the review and the update of the identified white paper topics. Shortly after the start of 2021, a draft System Overview Snapshot that summarizes those findings will be available for the public as part of Engagement Window #1. The System Overview Snapshot provides a foundation of understanding and shared learning, from which future discussions for the Master Plan Update can build. During Engagement Window #1, the community will be invited into the process to evaluate the key themes and focus areas. Following the conclusion of Engagement Window #1, the Needs Assessment phase will get underway. The Needs Assessment phase will take a holistic view of the facilities, assets, programs and services of the department. Successful identification of these needs will inform the strategies and initiatives the department should pursue over the next five to seven years. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact: Chris Ranglos, Planner I, Comprehensive Planning ranglosc@bouldercolorado.gov Agenda Item 6A Page 6 of 6