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The Town of Marana is planning for the future of its many parks and recreation amenities, like the splash pad at at Marana Heritage River Park.

Residents of Marana will soon have the chance to voice their opinion on the future of the town’s recreational offerings, according to department director Jim Conroy. 

Conroy, who addressed the town council at a study session on Tuesday, Aug. 13, said the parks and recreationdepartment is launching its 10-year master plan for years 2020-30. He outlined the process of implementing such an initiative, which will include meeting with members of the community, holding public forums and conducting surveys on possible future facilities. 

The master plan, which is budgeted at $288,000, will start in earnest after Labor Day, with Conroy’s department working in tandem with firm McGann & Associates to develop a comprehensive blueprint for the future. 

Conroy said the team’s main goal is to lay out a blueprint for the future of parks and recreational development, allowing the community to capitalize on the surge in population in the town.

“I think it’s important to remember that a successful parks and recreation department is one that tailors its needs to those of the community it serves,” Conroy said at the council meeting. “And as we go through the program, we all know [Marana] is a unique community, but I think our programming continues to be special and unique, and it makes Marana very diverse in its offerings.” 

Conroy cited a boom in people registering in the department’s programming as a key reason for moving forward with the plan. Conroy believes that surge, which saw a 30 percent increase in usage at the town’s facilities, from 2017 to this year, speaks to the ongoing need to evolve what Marana provides its residents. 

Both Conroy and Don McGann of McGann & Associates spoke to the pillars of the proposed 2020-30 recreational master plan, with the latter identifying core priorities and scope for the blueprint. 

Conroy acknowledged that the town, which is projected to have 65,000 residents by 2030, will need to drastically increase its facilities. That increase includes investment in parks and recreation infrastructure, going from 146 acres of park land in 2010 to 448 acres in 2030. 

Such an increase will allow the town to continue its current schedule of recreation activities, according to Conroy, serving the community residents of all ages in an effective manner. 

McGann said the plan will focus on five types of recreational offerings, ranging from traditional parks to open space and natural resource areas, trails and linear parks, special use facilities and recreational programs. 

“We understand that parks have great value as recreational facilities within the community,” McGann said. “But they also can be drivers in encouraging visitation and tourism in a community like the Town of Marana.”

McGann said the plan will include different types of parks, regional, community and neighborhood facilities—all of which can serve the community as a whole. 

He also pointed to the success of town-managed Tortolita Preserve as an example of open space and natural resource areas, with the 2020-30 plan likely including additional trails on the mountain range. 

McGann also said the next master plan, which will replace the one published in 2010, will likely include plans for expanded paths on the Loop system, as well as various local trails, mountain park trails and a host of recreational and special use facilities, such as youth and adult sports facilities, dog parks, community recreation centers and fitness and wellness offerings. 

Town councilmember Roxanne Ziegler expressed her desire to see a recreation center that could mimic the success of others in the region, like the Jewish Community Center in Tucson. 

“We need a rec center, and I hope that’s reflected when you go out and do this in a different way,” Ziegler said. “I hope that’s reflected in the community. It’s so hot in the summer, and you can accommodate so many people, there are so many great things that you can do with a rec center.”

McGann said all options are on the table for the master plan, with public engagement this fall, and a draft plan published by spring of 2020. The goal is to have a final plan available by the summer of 2020.

Conroy is confident that the town’s residents will do their part in voicing their ideas on where the town should go over the next decade, giving the department plenty of options for its master plan. 

“Lots of folks are interested in giving us feedback and we’re ready to engage,” Conroy said. “We want to engage in unconventional ways to engage with the public, like going into programs and setting up camp there for a day in a ramada to get people to interact with us.”

Read this story, and more, online at tucsonlocalmedia.com.

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