Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 11, 2013

VLPRA reveals Master Plan

VALDOSTA — Authority board members peered for into the future of Lowndes County's parks and recreation system for roughly an hour on Thursday evening as a representative from Lose & Associates presented a summary of the hurdles and opportunity that awaits the VLPRA (Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority) over the course of the next six year.

Add bulk, run smoother, increase spending and advertise your successes, were the suggestions Chris Camp outlined during his presentation of the study and subsequent report from Lose & Associates study on the VLPRA.

The Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan was based on metrics gleaned from a community-wide survey of our parks and recreation department, interviews with staff and users, public meetings and a steering committee workshop, according to Camp.

Approximately 27 percent of respondents cited lack of awareness as their primary reason why they rarely used VLPRA facilities, roughly 20 percent cited lack of time and around 12 percent of participant pointed to lack of amenities as their reasoning for avoiding the parks, according to Camp. Other reason included lack of money, poor maintenance, accessibility concerns and inadequate transportation, according to Camp.

Beating out the state average of 28 percent, Camp said Lowndes County's obesity rate was roughly 34 percent and that providing more access to parks and advertising the authority's programs could help lower that number. Roughly 43 percent of respondents stated that they wouldn't walk to a park, no matter how close, and about 45 percent stated that biking wasn't an option either.

“Let me give you some comparison. We've probably competed about 25 parks and recreation surveys around the country and these are the highest 'no bike' and 'no walk' numbers that we've ever had,” said Camp. “And I think this authority should work to change that because part of that is the lack of green-ways to the facilities. You have very few greenways her in the county and most parents aren't going to turn their children loose on a busy road to access a park. But they will allow them to use a greenway.”

The master plan suggested that the VLPRA hire more employees to breathe life into programs and facilities that were underutilized and it laid our a new organizational structure that cut down on redundant reports and empower each element of the authority.

“You have to bring your staffing levels in line with other agencies across the country,” said Camp. “Remember, your at 27 full-time personnel. The nation average for your population and budget size is 84. You're at 35 percent of the national average on your full-time staffing levels.”

Respondents listed the development of aquatics, more events, the Fourth of July Fireworks display, the renovation of facilities and rest room and a new community center as their top five needs in recreational facilities. But to fulfill the aforementioned wish-list, the VLPRA would need to bring more citizen on board to invest in the department as roughly 55 percent of respondents stated that they wouldn't contribute a cent to the authority on a monthly basis.

“You also need to expand programs countywide, rather than focusing them all in Valdosta,” said Camp. “Take programs up to Hahira. Take programs down to Clyattville. There's got to be community space in these areas to hold a class. You've got people in your rural areas that would love the addition of a new class in their area.”

But Thursday evening's presentation of the VLPRA's suggested master plan covered more than the obstacles the authority faces. Camp also suggested that the board plans to one day create trail from a 66-mile of rarely used train tracks.

“It's owned by the Genesee and Wyoming railroad, which is based out of Jacksonville, Fla.. You need to get that on your radar. It that line where to become available, you could create a trail that would start in Valdosta and end up all the way down in Martin, Fla.”

The length of the tracks and flatness of the area could be a national draw, but it would at least be a major attraction in South Georgia, according to Camp.

To conclude the presentation, Camp laid out his company's suggestions into three tiers based on feasibility and community feedback. The Lose & Associates plan suggested that the VLPRA seek out funding from local revenue generator, such as sales taxes and fee, as well as grants to meet the $77,719,099 it would cost to execute the six-year plan and fund the following projects and more:

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ant Smith.JPG Anthony Smith ready for new test in college

    Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament

    The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.

    July 20, 2014

Blazers Blog