Metro Parks seeks public input on master plan final draft

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Metro Parks provides a variety of recreational activities and opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities. Improving equity across the District is one emphasis of the six-year Strategic Master Plan. Photo courtesy of Michael Thompson

Metro Parks Tacoma, an award-winning and nationally recognized park district, independent of the City of Tacoma, is seeking public input once again – this time for the final draft of its six-year Strategic Master Plan, which lays out overarching strategies and tactics that ensure the District adheres to its vision and mission and propels forward, successfully sustaining operations and serving the community over the next six years.

Metro Parks Tacoma started on the drafting of the plan last spring.

“Earlier this year, we conducted an online survey,” explained Michael Thompson, spokesman for Metro Parks. “We’ve reached the point where we have received input and we’ve put it together, and this is a last check-in before the parks board takes a final look at (the plan). This final input is due on Dec. 15.”

Thompson said one of the overarching themes of the plan, residents will notice, is equity. In chapter three of the plan entitled “Strategic Directions,” the District explains its “Three Pillars of Sustainability.” The first is “People: The Social Pillar of Sustainability.” This pillar lays out Metro Parks’ vision and direction for ensuring equity and inclusivity for all residents. Two strategies recommended for implementation are diversifying the District’s workforce to better reflect the community it serves (the goal is to attain workforce diversity in gender and ethnic composition that are within 5 percent of the District community by 2023) and adopting a 10-minute walk level of service for Metro Parks to ensure equitable access to parks for all residents. Identified in the plan is a goal for the District to achieve 90 percent 10-minute walk level of service coverage by the year 2023.

The second and third pillars are “Conservation: The Environmental Pillar of Sustainability” and “Financial: The Economic Pillar of Sustainability.” The environmental pillar recognizes first and foremost that the District desires over the next six years to “become a recognized regional leader in sustainable practices, including green infrastructure improvements, conservation, environmental education, and biodiversity.” The economic pillar recognizes the District’s vision to aspire to the highest degree of fiscal responsibility. The first action strategy the plan lists to achieve this goal is prioritizing the maximizing of organizational efficiency by eliminating waste, duplication, and redundancy.

Thompson said the District has been deliberate in the process of drafting the Strategic Master Plan, ensuring that the public has been informed and engaged all along the way.

“We did a lot of outreach on this,” Thompson said. “Metro Parks relies on public input. We always have public meetings and surveys. We have to be accountable to the public. We have to be transparent and want to be transparent. We want to make sure that what we’re building and programming is what people want in their district.”

In the spirit of transparency, Thompson said Metro Parks has made it simple for residents to comment. Residents can submit comments online at metroparkstacoma.org/strategic-plan-update or by calling Chief Strategy Officer Joe Brady directly at (253) 305-1014. Comments can also be e-mailed to Brady at joeb@tacomaparks.com.

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