Parks + Rec Master plan innovative and efficient

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Heartland Visioning and Shawnee County Parks + Recreation partnered over the last two months to spend time communicating with more than a hundred citizens about community progress and the Parks + Recreation’s new master plan.

The improvements in Parks + Recreation are impressive including cost efficiency, community partnerships, efforts towards leveraging volunteers, marketing the department’s services, and more. Parks and Recreation facilities add to a community’s quality of life, increase property values, and provide a sense of pride and cohesion. As you think about the changes within your area of the community, consider learning more about the Parks + Recreation master plan improvements by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for speaking engagements. 

The Master Plan was created by Pros Consulting following the 2012 consolidation of the city and county parks and recreation departments. Here is some of the progress:

• Cost Recovery – At certain levels, parks and recreation is a public service, providing facilities free of charge or at very low cost. In value-added or niche areas such as golf, they now rely on user fees to sustain and improve facilities. Parks + Recreation’s two largest golf courses – Lake Shawnee and Cypress Ridge – now operate out of self-sustaining revolving funds, using no taxpayer dollars.

• The consultant recommended a new multi-generational parks facility to serve rapidly growing southwest Shawnee County. Hence, the department is building a new aquatic center near 21st and Urish Road. Completion is targeted for Memorial Day 2016.

• Parks + Recreation has partnered with Topeka Civic Theatre to operate Helen Hocker Theatre, TDC Learning Centers and Bright Circle Preschool to operate preschools in parks and recreation facilities. This has reduced operating losses by hundreds of thousands of dollars and increased participation in programs while still providing the same services to the community.

• In addition to making local residents more aware of the parks and programs, Parks + Rec attracts people from the surrounding region to help generate additional revenue to help sustain our parks. So, the department has added a Communications and Public Information Supervisor and a Volunteer Coordinator to better inform and engage the public in our parks and programs. From January to September of 2015 Shawnee County Parks and Rec has tracked 6,926.95 volunteer hours. Figured at a rate of $23.07 those hours are a $159,804.74 value to Parks + Recreation. Volunteer today by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

“By necessity, we must operate in a business-like fashion, using a formula of public and private funding and user fees to sustain our parks and facilities,” said John Knight, director, Shawnee County Parks + Recreation. “This affects our future decisions. Your continued input is important, so we have set up an email address –This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so you can continue to send us your feedback and suggestions as we move forward.”

The Visioneer

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Topeka, KS 66603
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