The Johnston County Sports Council has completed the first-ever county-wide parks and recreation master plan.
The Johnston County Tourism Authority undertook the project of a county-wide Parks & Recreation Master Plan in February 2014, by selecting SageDesign, a consulting firm from Wilmington, NC. Owned by Sara Burroughs, the firm had extensive knowledge of Johnston County and in particular the Town of Clayton, as the firm just recently completed Clayton's revised parks plan.
Steps involved in completing this county-wide Parks & Recreation Master Plan included:
The staff of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau in coordination with the Sports Council, contacted all eleven municipalities, civic/sports groups, and community partners to embark on completing the many layers of the project. Each community partner approved a Resolution of Support for the Sports Council endorsing the project.
The community kick-off meeting for the Steering Committee was held May 21, 2014 where the work ahead was outlined, base maps were reviewed, and facility matrices forms were completed by all parties involved in the project. This meeting was well attended with representatives from all corners of the county.
By the time summer came around, the inventory of existing parks and recreation facilities began with field investigations and assessments. As the county is quite large, the Steering Committee worked closely with the SageDesign staff to travel the county with a host or guide.
Step three involved an extensive amount of Public Input through several methods or ways of gathering data throughout the county. The Visitors Bureau staff identified through Chambers, Towns, top ten employers, schools, parks and recreation departments, and many others ways to email out online surveys and in smaller amounts hard copy surveys. Input from county residents concerning the future development of parks and recreation was a key factor for our county leaders as we continue to grow at a rapid pace in Johnston. Just over 2,500 responses were received for the study.
Finally data was analyzed and recommendations were developed based on the evaluation matrix, field observations, public input results, demographics and cultural trends and national standards such as involvement of the County data in the National Recreation and Park Association PROGRAGIS program. Workshops were held with the Steering Committee to review recommendations before final reports are completed.
A public presentation was held on March 18, 2015 at the Paul A. Johnston Auditorium in Smithfield, so that the public could understand the process and hear the recommendations for the county's recreation needs in the future.
Online and Printed Reports
All participating organizations will receive a hard-copy printed version of the Master Plan and the Visitors Bureau will have the project notebook for history purposes on site at the office. As the county and all its individual municipalities grow and continue to offer recreational opportunities to residents and visitors alike, we all will have working guidelines on which to rely for vision, strategy, grant writing; which will ultimately lead us to improving existing facilities, building new facilities, completing the Mountains to the Sea trail…and more.
The goal of having this county-wide Parks & Recreation Master Plan is to provide direction for our leaders as the county continues to grow and the need for recreation facilities grows as well. Recreation is a key component of quality of life for new residents and something that visitors seek out as well. The JCVB staff and members of the Sports Council are excited to see where this study leads us in the next 5 to 10 years.