Jackson County Commissioners approved a 10-year master plan for parks and recreation Monday night.
Mayor Randy Heady said that nothing is set in stone and things can be changed, but now the county is armed with a plan.
Landscape Architect Kevin Guenther led the planning process. He said his recommendations to the county include boosting its facilities, athletic programs and target things the community can get behind.
“Right now you really don’t have any formal budget towards your park and recreation facilities or staff,” Guenther said. “It’s kind of something that is blended with other things. We’re strongly encouraging you to look at the potential of dedicating something just specifically for parks and recreation.”
Guenther said the key to approaching the master plan is taking it piece by piece, and building over those ten years. Heady said that for economics, having a master plan like this opens up the county to a world of parks and rec grants.
“We have something we can take to TDEC and say, ‘the people in the community want this,” Heady said. “Or you go to the department of health, that’s another place you go for park grants or you go to T-DOT. T-DOT has grant money in there to help develop parks. It’s amazing how many branches there are that want to do this and there are hundreds of other kinds of park grants that you can get that has nothing to do with the state of Tennessee.”
Two areas at the forefront of Guenther’s Monday night presentation are Roaring River Park and Cumberland Bend, otherwise known as the “old golf course” in Jackson County. However, a lack of facilities for youth sports is something Heady said was negatively impacting the county.
Heady said property the county already has could be the key piece to fixing this problem.
“A lot of the ones that are leaving, one of things they say is that we don’t offer those facilities,” Heady said. “Now that’s not always the case but I’m just saying. So there was a lot of interest in using the land that we already have, under lease at the Cumberland Bend at the old golf course, which we know will never be a golf course again.”
Heady said to the commissioners to remember that all of this is a concept, not a contract. Heady said that commissioners will be welcome at any time to fix things they don’t like in the plan, but that now the county has one for the next 10 years of parks and recreation.