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Commissioners adopt parks and recreation master plan

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA—One day, a multi-state greenway will span the eastern seaboard from the Florida Keys to Maine, including through Brunswick County.

A recently completed comprehensive parks and recreation master plan shows Brunswick County should beginning planning for its span within the next five years, and plan for construction within the next 10 years.

The county’s greenway span was one of many projects highlighted in the plan, which was approved by county commissioners during their Monday night meeting.

For the past six months, the parks and recreation department and consultants from Lose and Associates have been developing master plan, which Jim Pryor, parks and recreation director, described as a “long-range blueprint document.”

During the process, parks and recreation employees and Lose and Associates consultants toured the county’s parks facilities, hosted seven public input sessions and conducted a countywide survey of recreation needs.

Pryor, who was named director in December 2008, said he learned a lot about Brunswick County throughout the planning process.

“Just being new to this area, and not being from around here, I was interested in keeping a hands-off approach,” Pryor said of the months-long process. “I was just impressed with the overall plan.

“The biggest thing about this plan is it is a long-range plan. We’re looking 10 years down the road—a plan like that doesn’t happen overnight.”

Another benefit of the master plan, Pryor said, is it helps when applying for grant funding. With parks and recreation plans often among the first to be cut during a tight budget year, Pryor said grants have become increasingly important.

The planning process also showed Brunswick County spends less per capita on parks and recreation than the statewide average. In 2009, Brunswick County spent $40.65 per person, more than $20 below the statewide average of $64.41 per person.

But even with funding shortfalls for parks and recreation facilities, Pryor said plan highlights the need for parks and recreation facilities within the county.

“That’s a tribute to the importance we play in the community,” he said.

Chris Camp, a consultant with Lose and Associates, presented the plan to commissioners at their Monday meeting. Camp said community input sessions and surveys showed one of the county’s strongest areas was its youth sports programs.

“On the other hand, we did look at some of the things people wanted to do, which was adult sports,” Camp said. “That’s something to keep in mind as you go forward.”

Other recommendations presented in the plan include:

•Increase the number and variety of programs, including extreme sports, health and wellness programs, arts and culture programs and active adult programs.

•Provide more nature-based and outdoor recreation programs.

“Brunswick’s natural resources are not being used to their full potential,” the plan states.

•Increase playground safety, ADA accessibility, shaded areas in parks and better lighting in parking lots.

•Revamp aging facilities and overused sports fields.

•Construct new facilities throughout the county, including two aquatics facilities, additional tennis courts, a skate park, three dog parks, greenways and trails and paved loops for walking or running.

•Develop a countywide greenway master plan.

To view the entire comprehensive master plan, visit the county’s Web site at http://www.brunswickcountync.gov/Departments/ParksandRecreation/tabid/64...