Circuit breaker casts a shadow on new 5-year county parks plan

NOW: Circuit breaker casts a shadow on new 5-year county parks plan

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The St. Joseph County Parks Department unveiled its parks master plan for 2019-2023 on Thursday. 

The plan has five parts:

1.    Protect and enhance natural and cultural resources

2.    Reinforce activities highlighting nature, public health, and economic development

3.    Develop administration, staffing and succession plans

4.    Improve and update existing park facilities and equipment

5.    Prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion

“We want to make sure that reflects what the public wants,” said Jonathon Geels, with The Troyer Group. 

According to data gathered by The Troyer Group, county parks are still important to the community. John Yarger, who attended Thursday’s unveiling, said he grew up going to county parks and they have a special place in his heart. 

However, with the 2020 circuit breaker approaching Evie Kirkwood, the county parks department director said there’s a level of uncertainty for the future. 

“Property tax dollars will be reduced and so you can only divide the pie of county services so many ways,” Kirkwood said. “We’ll have to see how that shakes out for us.”

According to a Troyer Group survey, 73 percent of people in St. Joseph County said it's important to invest more money into the county parks. Geels said people are committed to seeing county parks succeed.

“Everyone seems committed to the same mission,” said Geels. “Which is letting people know that the value of these parks.”

To give the county parks department feedback on the new 5-year master plan, click here


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