Our parks are a major contributor to what makes Naples one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I realized this more than ever when City Council was recently presented with a “Parks Master Plan Survey ”, completed by Barth Associates. One may wonder: We already have great parks, why fix something that is not broken? The answer is simple: because it is important to understand what residents want in a park,
what types of uses they envision, and what they will support. We also want to have knowledge of the attitudes and interests of City residents and visitors to decide if the current parks, facilities, and programs meet the needs of the people in the community.
Telephone and online surveys as well as focus groups were conducted in order to determine how Naples Parks and Recreational Facilities stack up against the desires of the community. Overall, most people feel the parks excel. We did discover that many people would like increased connectivity, accessibility, walking and biking routes, and the completion of the Gordon River Greenway. Additional canoeing and kayaking facilities, boat ramps, improved/additional dog parks, adult fitness and wellness programs, and senior adult programs were the top suggested additions.
Other suggestions and ideas to improve parks and amenities throughout the city are to add outdoor concert venues to include concerts and live music, more special events, large community parks and multi-use green space, gathering spaces, passive parks, improvements to beachfront parks, nature/environmental programs, tennis lessons and leagues, more tennis courts, youth sports programs, and more amenities. This discovery prompts us to review the Baker Park plan, as many of these items were included in it. This was a more active use than expected and will require logistical planning, deliveries, catering, etc to serve the events. The critical aspect is to understand and implement the desires of the City residents.
One of the many things I hear from folks (which was confirmed by Barth’s survey) is that each of our parks and facilities offer different recreation, cultural, athletic, and/or natural experiences. It was no surprise when I saw the Naples Pier had the highest use of all our facilities, followed by Lowdermilk Park, Naples City Dock, the Gordon River Greenway, and Cambier Park.
Our main goal is to continue to make Naples the green jewel of Southwest Florida, and to maintain an extraordinary quality of life for our residents while strengthening the economic health and vitality of the City of Naples.
I encourage you to go for a walk today and enjoy all that our parks have to offer. If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments, please contact me at 239.213.1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.