Thursday evening the Marshall County Park and Recreation Board and members of the Master Plan Steering Committee met with representatives from Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) to begin putting their 5-year plan together for the County Parks System.
The group of about 2-dozen broke into small groups and listed aspirations for the park department, strengths and barriers. The full group then discussed common themes that could be incorporated into the vision statement.
Aspiration pointed out by the 5-groups including connecting existing trails and parks in the county, being handicap accessible, enhancing the quality of life for rural residents and promoting healthy families, acquiring more property for the county parks department and creating a friend’s group to help with projects and fundraising.
There were several strengths pointed out by the groups including a number of existing parks in the municipalities, kayak launches on the Yellow River, a proposed Marshall County Trail System with the help of Stellar, the Chain of Lakes, many DNR properties, Potawatomi Wildlife Park, Mill Pond, Chief Menominee and the Memorial Forest.
The biggest barrier noted by each of the groups was funding. Also they noted a focus on agriculture, government regulations on development, staffing and maintenance, getting the public to buy into the idea of a county park system and the distances between the communities that have parks and trails in hooking them altogether.
The MACOG representatives will take back the information gathered during the public meeting and begin the process of creating a mission statement and a master plan. The plan must be submitted to IDNR by April 15th.