What do you want to see at Washington County parks?

February 25, 2014

Want to sound off on what you’d like to see – or not see – at two of the three Washington County parks?

The Washington County Planning Commission has scheduled its first public meeting to review the planning process and gather input for Cross Creek and Mingo Creek county park master plans for 6 p.m. March 6 in Exhibition Hall No. 2 at the fairgrounds in Arden, Chartiers Township.

Information will be available on Twitter, Facebook and a website to be revealed March 6 for those who cannot attend the meeting.

The interaction is open regardless if one is or is not a resident of Washington County.

“I understand it’s hard to get to meetings sometimes,” said Lisa Cessna, director of the planning commission. “This is a first for this kind of feedback.

“There are opportunities for Facebook and Twitter that we have not used in the past for our master plans, but we need to appeal to or entice all ages. We’re not discouraging anybody who’s interested and wants to come (to the parks.)

“We know they’re regional assets that are used by people from outside the county. This is the public process. We need to see what the majority of people want to see in the parks or not see in the parks. Nothing’s off the table at this point.”

The 10-year parks master plan website will have its own domain name, but it will also be linked to the county website.

A survey will be mailed randomly to county residents but people can also respond to the survey online, which is seeking information from all demographics, once the website is up and running next week.

Suggestions will be analyzed to determine the cost and feasibility of long-term maintenance and staffing.

For those who attend the meeting, GAI Consultants are seeking “ideas and disgruntlements, whatever comes up,” Cessna said. The gathering is expected to last two to three hours to get feedback from those who may prefer not to speak before a large group, those attending will be divided into smaller groups.

The county commissioners in December awarded GAI a $126,000 contract, to be paid from oil and gas revenue, to act as consultant for the project.

The county will also be updating its parks, recreation and open space plan, which includes the Panhandle Trail and Ten Mile Creek County Park, which has 25 acres.

“There’s not a lot more we can do there,” Cessna said of Ten Mile. “There’s not a lot of land left. As for Panhandle, there’s not much more to develop as far as the trail itself.”

The next public meeting is scheduled for May 15 for the presentation of a draft from the planning meeting and public input. A final plan is to be created in June so that the county can meet its target date of July 17 for the adoption of the 10-year plan.

The county completed its last master plan for parks in 2000.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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