In the spring of 2007, town staff created a Master Parks Plan for Smyrna. The plan was done to deal with the growth of the town with a goal of rationally providing recreational needs for residents. However, when the economy took a hit so did the town’s dream of providing citizens with a better parks system.
Even though there’s been no money to put towards Smyrna’s park infrastructure, it hasn’t stopped town staff and council members from continuing talks for what they’d like to see in the future. Much of what’s been said is the same as what’s included in the 2007 Master Park Plan – a place that provides residents with a chance to live in a walkable, bike-able town with walking/jogging paths, bike paths, picnic areas and playgrounds.
The plan includes a proposal to put a park at Mill Creek, a Smyrna Bike/Hike Trail and more. The town currently has parks on Main Street, Green Meadows, Sunnyside, and Lake Como.
Hugg said the town would like to continue working on the park plan, but money is still tight. There are grants available, but some are for only 50 percent of the costs so the town would still be responsible with paying for some of the costs.
This is where the town’s recently re-established Parks and Recreation Committee comes in. The committee was re-established last year to improve upon the town’s programming and park system.
“Parks and Recreation are important,” Hugg said. “We used to have a pretty active committee with eight to 10 programs a year.”
However, just like the plan the committee was cut when money got tight.
The committee started meeting again this year and has already begun working on starting new programs. On May 7, a handful of committee members took a tour of the town’s infrastructure to see what they are working with in terms of the park system. Committee Chair Judy Cherry said the committee decided to take a tour to be better informed of what the town has as far as a park system. Led by town employee Kevin Fox, the group looked at George C. Wright Municipal Park, Green Meadows Park, the Mill Creek property, Sunnyside Park, and Lake Como which has a park.
“This was an opportunity to see where our needs are, to find out what kind of labor goes into the existing parks, and to see if they are up to par,” Cherry said. “We’d like to add more but don’t want to add parks if it’ll bring the quality of the parks down.”
Like Hugg, Cherry said there are grants available but the town first needs to be clear of its goal before leveraging state and county funds.
“We want to do this as fiscally neutral to the town as possible,” Cherry said. “This tour will give us a benchmark of what we have so we can be able to advise on where we should invest.”
Mayor Joanne Masten said she is thrilled with the progress that has been made by the committee thus far, including their ideas for programming and commitment to provide better parks.
Hugg said the town needs a good, active committee to bring in programming, generate money and to advocate for the town’s parks.
“Hopefully the economy gets better and we can bring out the plan, dust it off and update it,” he said.