Park staff reviews 2022 report, holds public forum

By Charlotte Caldwell - [email protected]

SIDNEY – The Sidney Recreation Board discussed the 2022 recreation and water park report and the renaming of Plum Ridge Park during a meeting on Oct. 3.

First, the board discussed the 2022 summer lunch and backpack programs. Summer lunches were prepared by Wilson Memorial Hospital and were served from June 6 to Aug. 12, Monday through Friday, across 12 locations. Deam and McMillen parks were two new locations for the program in 2022. Since 2018, this program has stayed consistent with around 7,000 meals served. The backpack program sent 1,728 meals home with children on Fridays for them to have meals on the weekends. This number decreased from 2021 when 2,133 meals were given out.

As mentioned in the water park report, the facility was open for 47 days, closed for three days, and closed early 10 days during 2022. Water park revenue decreased by $8,073.80, and concession stand revenue decreased by $6,420.06 compared to 2021. There were 17 pool rentals. 79 people participated in swimming lessons.

Shelter reservations and ball field usage all experienced decreases besides Harmon Field, which increased by 40 compared to the previous year. In 2022, usage of shelter reservations was 509, 280 for Custenborder Fields, 93 for Flanagan Fields, and 110 for Harmon Field.

The parks and recreation department hosted 34 recreation clinics in 2022, which increased from 29 in 2021. Attendance at the clinics experienced a slight decrease from 2021 with 1,082 participants. Some of the clinic activities included making crafts, playing and swapping board games, and exercising.

The board also approved the renaming of Plum Ridge Park to Jannides Park in honor of Mary Jannides, who was in attendance virtually. Jannides started her term on the recreation board on Nov. 20, 1972, and she is the second woman to serve on the board. Throughout her term, nine city managers and 11 mayors have been appointed in Sidney, and she has been involved in some major changes and improvements in the parks and recreation department.

The next step will be for the city council to codify the change. The first reading of the ordinance will be at the Oct. 24 city council meeting, and a proclamation will be read on Nov. 10.

The next Sidney Recreation Board meeting is set for Feb. 6, 2023.

The parks and recreation department also held a virtual public forum – which was one of three – on Oct. 4 so the public could review, become familiar with, and provide input on the parks and recreation master plan. The department has been collaborating with OHM and PROS Consulting Inc. since June with a key outcome of “establishing a long-range plan that helps ensure that resources are used effectively, and priorities are based on the greatest community benefit,” as stated on a presentation slide at the forum.

Rick Fay of OHM mentioned that some of the opportunities for improvement that his team has been hearing were improving trail connectivity, providing parks within 1/2 mile of all residents, adding venue and event spaces, providing more natural areas, building creative play amenities, providing links to city history and cultural resources, improving water trails, and making more cohesive branding. Some of the challenges mentioned were how well the water park has been meeting community needs, adjusting sports facilities and park programs to meet the current want and needs, and neighborhood parks offering the same amenities.

Forum participants were then encouraged to interact with a survey pertaining to the opportunities and challenges presented. When asked if there was anything missing from the parks and recreation system, participants responded with answers like a splash pad, disc golf, and pickleball. Answers for the biggest challenges the parks face included staffing, maintenance, and pool operations.

An online survey is also available until Oct. 16 for community members to provide insight. Any master plan updates, like the dates and times for the other public forums, will be posted on the parks and recreation section on the city’s website and social media.

By Charlotte Caldwell

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.