On February 6, the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission kicked off its strategic planning process. Public input is being sought through a brief survey that will help guide the decision-making process.
The survey will close on April 10, 2024. Please submit your feedback before that date.
About the Strategic Plan Process
The process, which is being facilitated by Crowe LLP, will involve engagement with the public and various stakeholders as well as additional surveys, research, and data gathering.
“The current strategic mission, goals, and objectives for the Parks Commission have helped guide us to successfully establish a parks system that is beloved by residents and visitors,” said Parks Commission President Kelly Rice. “Now we are excited to review our strategic direction and continue into the next phase of organizational growth.”
Since the establishment of the Parks Commission in 1987, the organization has been driven by an expansionary strategy focused on four “greenway” corridors within the County (the Grand River, Lake Michigan Coastal, Macatawa River, and Pigeon River Greenways). The focus on greenways greatly contributed to the successful approval of a 0.33 Parks Millage in 1996 and two subsequent renewals in 2006 and 2016.
The original expansionary plan laid out in previous millage campaigns and Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plans (the guiding planning document required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for grants) has largely been achieved.
“There is still significant work to be done over the next several years for some of our major ongoing projects,” said Parks Director Jason Shamblin. “The question for us now is what’s next. Ottawa County is still growing rapidly and demand for outdoor experiences is only increasing. Where and how do we focus our resources to serve the community’s need for great natural resources-based recreation.”
This strategic plan will provide renewed mission, vision, values, goals and objectives that will inform the 2026 millage renewal proposal. In order to support the planning process, the Parks Commission will conduct a scientific survey of residents. This survey will provide insight into public sentiment about the County Parks System, their desires for the future, and an in-depth analysis of the economic and quality of life benefits provided by the Parks System. Additionally, data gathering will help estimate the annual number of visitors to parks. In 2021, available sources estimated over 900,000 vehicles to the parks system and provided evidence that the County Parks were not only popular with residents, but also attracted visitors from all over West Michigan, the Midwest, and the United States.
To assist with the strategic planning process, an advisory committee representing various stakeholder groups has been established and will provide guidance to the Parks Commission during the process.
Other Public Input Opportunities
In addition to the public community survey, there will be a public presentation of the draft strategic plan in June (more information will be provided in the Spring).
For those interested in following the process, updates will be available online.