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The Town of Oro Valley is asking its residents to help staff develop a future parks and recreation needs assessment.

The start of a new decade seems like the perfect time to start planning for the next decade. My name is Kristy Diaz-Trahan, and I’m your Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director and I need your help in the development of a Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The department’s vision statement is “Inspire Connection through Recreation.” You see, a strong parks and recreation system provides a variety of opportunities to connect people to each other, to nature, and to the community. 

It is through connection that immeasurable memories are made. How each of us connects is different based on a variety of factors: age, gender, background, abilities, interests, etc. Furthermore, the ways in which we connect often change over time. That is why it is important to take a look at future wants and needs as well as current ones. Looking down the road ensures we are developing and sustaining a strong parks and recreation system.

This year, your Oro Valley Parks and Recreation team will be working on a comprehensive, community-wide needs assessment and master plan with the goal of identifying the needs of current and future Oro Valley residents and their guests. Moreover, this plan will be one that is not only visionary but also realistic. Those two words—visionary and realistic—don’t always co-exist; however, our contractor, PRO’s Consulting, has conducted hundreds of parks and recreation masterplans throughout the country and pride themselves on producing plans that can be implemented. How, you may ask? The answer is: data. This project will include hundreds and hundreds of data points that will be matched and cross-tabulated to get to the heart of what Oro Valley Parks and Recreation will be in five to 10 years down the road.

This data collection is done through a variety of information gathering techniques, from looking at U.S. census data to hearing from you individually. We will be asking what you want the future of Oro Valley Parks and Recreation to look and feel like. How do you connect to others, to nature and to our community?

To that end, the consultant has set up a project website where residents can get project updates and share their opinions. Be sure to bookmark and check back often, because information will be continuously updated, and various opportunities for input will be provided. 

We will also host a community meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at town hall council chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive. The meeting will start with a 30-minute presentation about the project and then open up for public discussion so we can hear from you. If you can’t join us for the meeting, be sure to visit the website noted above and submit your comments. You’ll also see us at a booth or table at some of your favorite community events. Check the event times and locations on the project website, and then stop by and chat with us.

Behind the scenes we are taking an inventory of parks, programs and amenities within Oro Valley, which will also include private (HOA) parks, schools, fitness clubs etc. so that we have a comprehensive picture of what is currently available in our community. That inventory also takes into account current condition of parks, facilities, trails and programs. 

Once all the information gathering is completed, a final report will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Town Council, likely late April or early May. The next step is to develop the comprehensive Master Plan. Key to the plan is using all the data that is gathered to develop a strong system that our residents want, and a reasonable plan to bring that vision to fruition. The plan will include strategies and priorities for funding, program development, and strategic partnerships. As you may recall, Oro Valley Town Council made the decision to retain 36 holes of golf, and that decision will stand. Input will, however, be used to develop conceptual site plans for Naranja Park, James D. Kriegh Park, Riverfront Park, Steam Pump Ranch and the Community Center. 

We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us, and there are many ingredients to making this happen. But remember: the most important ingredient in this plan is your participation.

Kristy Diaz-Trahan is the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director.

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