New master plan will guide projects and programming through 2025

Stacy Findley wants to find opportunities to improve Seymour’s parks and increase the number of people spending time there.

But first, she has to find out what will attract people to them. A new splash pad? More shelter houses? New playground equipment? More basketball and volleyball courts?

Just six weeks on the job as director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, Findley is leading the department in creating a new five-year master plan.

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That plan will help guide projects, programming and development of the city’s parks and recreational offerings through 2025. It also is instrumental in helping the city secure grant money to fund future parks projects and initiatives.

Creating the master plan is a lengthy process that involves input from parks employees, board members and the public. The first step will be taking an inventory of all of the parks and department assets.

There will be three community input sessions conducted this year with dates, times and locations to be announced in the near future. There also will be an online survey people can fill out.

“It will take nine months to a year to complete,” Findley said. “We want this to be community driven, rather than department driven. Seymour residents need to be part of the decision-making process.”

The city is working with Administrative Resources association in Columbus in developing the plan. Eric Frey, executive director of ARa, will meet with the parks board next month.

On Monday, four parks board members — Gary Colglazier, Kathy Hohenstreiter, Art Juergens and Matt Levine — took a bus tour of parks facilities organized by Findley, stopping at Shields Park to look at the Schurman-Grubb Memorial Skatepark, Crossroads Community Park and the downtown Seymour Community Center.

They also drove by Gaiser, Freeman Field, Kasting, Kessler and Westside parks, Steinker Platz pocket park and the future Burkhart Plaza, which is under construction at the location of the former One Chamber Square.

Findley is looking to the board to come up with facility and programming needs by listing internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.

One area she wants to see addressed in the plan is Westside Park. She said she has approached a local company about a possible partnership to adopt the park and help rejuvenate it.

“That park is wide open for opportunities,” she said.

Ideas include new basketball courts, lighting, restrooms, a splash pad or water feature, updated playground equipment, parking and a sensory garden.

“It’s really a blank canvas, and I think with it being an older neighborhood that the residents would appreciate the upgrades,” Findley said.