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Parks and Recreation Master Plan

Four phases - Research and Trends, Needs Assessment, Implementation Plan, and Master Plan Adoption. We are in the Research and Trends Phase

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June 11, 2021 Update

We'd like to announce our first open house! On Thursday, June 24 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Municipal Services Center at 5050 East Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80301 . This open house will be  in person , but we will also provide all of the materials and a copy of the presentation online for those who cannot or do not wish to attend. All feedback opportunities will also be provided digitally to ensure we hear from everyone via Be Heard Boulder  through Monday, July 5.  

The meeting will cover information that's been gathered, including the community feedback received to date. That input has helped shape the current phase of the project and identify the needs and desires of the community related to the facilities, programs and services provided by BPR. 

After the open house and engagement period, BPR will finalize the needs assessment and identify strategies and initiatives that meet the community’s needs and desires. The community will be asked later this year for additional feedback to guide BPR’s investments and day-to-day decision making. 

Staff will also introduce the Historic Places Plan (HiPP) at this meeting. This is a separate plan with a related process. 
  HiPP Project Page



The 2014 Boulder Parks and Recreation Master Plan pdf was adopted by City Council in February 2014. Since that time, the Master Plan has shaped the work of the department through the delivery of parks and recreation services in a manner consistent with city sustainability goals and meets the community’s level of service standards.

In 2020, Parks and Recreation has begun the process to update the Master Plan. The Master Plan Update will identify new and evolving areas of focus and provide recommendations for strategic ways to address gaps in service within the existing framework of the 2014 Master Plan. The Master Plan Update will seek to incorporate strategic direction from city-wide initiatives such as the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and other department Master Plans, such as climate initiatives and equity, among others.

The Master Plan is a key implementation strategy within the city’s primary planning document, the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP), and is intended to be strategic in focus to help the department respond to three important questions.

  • What do we do?
  • For whom do we do it? 
  • How do we excel?

The primary focus is on the short-term strategies that will build success over the long-term. The Master Plan also focuses on high-level initiatives rather than more specific and detailed actions. The specific actions will be identified and assigned in the annual Action Plan.

The 2014 Master Plan included the department’s mission and vision; an analysis of the parks and recreation system’s current condition and challenges; and six key themes that emerged from research and community engagement. It also included policies, long-range goals, initiatives and a system plan that allowed the department to serve the community’s highest priorities and be responsible stewards of public assets and dollars.

The current Master Plan Update will build upon the 2014 Master Plan and the department’s success in achieving and implementing the strategies and initiatives outlined within that plan.

Project Approach

This project is broken into five phases.

  • Project Initiation & Kick-off 
  • Research and Trends  - Wrapping Up
  • Needs Assessment  - Current Phase
  • Implementation Plan
  • Master Plan Adoption

Four phases - Research and Trends, Needs Assessment, Implementation Plan, and Master Plan Adoption. We are in the Research and Trends Phase

Project Initiation & Kick-off includes the identification of the scope of the project, as well as the procurement process to hire a consultant team to assist the department through the project. This phase ends with the project kick-off.

Research and Trends consists of updating the white papers developed as part of the 2014 Master Plan, as well as summarizing the progress of the department in the past six years. The Research and Trends phase results in the development of a System Overview Snapshot that will be the subject of the first window of engagement with the community. The System Overview Snapshot will provide a shared foundation of knowledge for the department and the community to engage in the rest of the planning process.

Needs Assessment will identify the needs of the community and the department. This is the starting place for identifying the priorities the department will pursue over the next five to seven years. During this phase, there will be the second window of engagement substantial community input, including a community survey and work with Growing Up Boulder and the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board.

Implementation Plan will take the list of needs identified and prioritize them for action in the next five to seven years. This will include data-driven decisions and include specific metrics for being able to track progress and mark success. The work in the Implementation Plan phase will allow the department to align staff resources and budget priorities to advance community needs and meet core service objectives. The third window of public engagement during this time will ensure that the identified priorities are indeed the priorities of the community.

Master Plan Adoption includes all the formal steps required for the plan to eventually be approved by City Council. PRAB will review and make a formal recommendation in support of the plan, as will Planning Board. City Council will then review and make a formal motion to accept the plan. This phase includes the fourth and final window of engagement consisting of the formal public comments received during public meetings of the reviewing and recommending boards, as well as City Council.

Project Impacts from COVID-19

It is critical to begin this work so the discussions and outcomes can inform the department’s short and long-term response to and recovery from COVID-19. Anticipated impacts regarding financial sustainability, core services and ability to provide continued access and equity across the system can be discussed as part of the engagement process. Outcomes from those discussion can be used to inform immediate decisions and support the final product. As with most planning efforts, this is envisioned to be an 18- to 24-month project, with a final product anticipated in early 2022.

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, BPR has negotiated a reduced scope and cost with the selected consultant team to address necessary budget reductions in both 2020 and 2021 that will still yield a valuable strategic document with robust staff and public engagement.

BPR will work to ensure planned public engagement will meet the stated goals for each window, while also conforming to current public health directives and guidelines related to COVID-19. Public engagement will carefully balance the need for appropriate and robust engagement with health and safety of all community members. The project team is exploring creative ways to engage the public virtually.

April 2021 Update

Thank you to the 463 community members and BPR staff who participated in our first questionnaire in February! Your feedback helped us identify how the Master Plan's key themes were serving the community, and how we could build upon them in the next five to seven years. We also heard hopes and concerns relating to all sorts of issues within our system, but most particularly relating to:

  • Concerns about homelessness, encampments and the specific challenges related to parks and recreation.
  • Impacts of a growing and changing population on the overall parks and recreation system including the need for additional facilities.
  • Challenges with resources and capacity related to sustainable funding.

The Engagement Summary for Window #1 can be viewed  here .

The cover of the Window 1 Engagement Summary

The project team presented these results and a more comprehensive project update to PRAB on April 12. Those presentation materials and report can be viewed  here .

Next Steps

To start off Engagement Window #2, approximately 4000 randomly-selected Boulder households were mailed postcards this week with a PIN for a statistically valid survey to help BPR better understand community needs and desires. The community is also invited to take the survey without a PIN, although those who have received one are encouraged to enter it to help ensure accuracy. You can take the survey here: /BPRSurvey   The survey has ended - stay tuned for the results.

Engagement Window #2 will also include a virtual public open house (details to be announced) and supplemental mini polls on  Be Heard Boulder and social media. To receive the latest information on how to participate, please  sign up for our email updates .

Project staff will continue to work on a needs assessment of BPR facilities, parks, programs, operations, and finances as part of the second project phase.

February 2021 Update

Share your input on the themes that guide the Boulder Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update!

Community members are invited to share your input through a Be Heard Boulder questionnaire on the themes that guide how the department prioritizes facility renovations, recreation programs and its operations. These themes are:

  • Community Health and Wellness: Ensure public health and wellness through parks, facilities, and programs to keep Boulder a healthy and vibrant community. 
  • Taking Care of What We Have: Prioritize investments in existing parks and facilities to ensure the long-term viability of the park and recreation system. 
  • Equity: Provide safe, inclusive, culturally relevant, and welcoming parks, facilities and programs in a way that works to address systemic and historic inequities. 
  • Resilience : Create a parks and recreation department that is prepared to absorb the shocks and stressors of environmental and societal changes.
  • Financial Sustainability: Balance multiple and increasing demands within existing resources, recognizing the limits of public funding and the need to focus on core services. 
  • Building Community Relationships: Build community engagement and cultural activities through outreach programs and initiatives. Promote a healthy community to address social and cultural inequities. 
  • Youth Engagement and Activity: Engage youth with parks, facilities and programs that provide direct experience with nature, experiential learning and opportunities to close the educational achievement gap. 
  • Organizational Readiness: Leverage the use of new technologies, data driven decision-making and collaborative decision-making tools to respond to changes over time within the parks and recreation industry. 

The questionnaire will be available through  February 28, 2021 . Be Heard Boulder has several other activities as well to share with the project team your favorite Parks and Recreation places and memories.

December 2020 Update

Since the project kick-off in September with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB), staff and the consultant team have been hard at work in the Research & Trends phase of the Master Plan Update, including an evaluation of previous research and the development of the public engagement plan for the project.

At the November 23 PRAB meeting staff presented a progress report on the project and requested feedback on the detailed public engagement plan. Staff reviewed the 2014 white papers, as well as two new topics for consideration: equity and resilience. More information: Nov. 23, 2020 PRAB Memo

On December 8, a study session was held with City Council. Staff presented the project approach and engagement plan, key themes from 2014, and a brief overview and approach to equity and resilience. Overall, council was supportive of the process and approach as presented and indicated that it was appropriate to look further into equity and resilience as additional key topics. Council members identified key groups of stakeholders that may have been overlooked previously, including residents versus non-residents, as well as unhoused individuals. It was also stressed that Parks and Recreation should be sure to coordinate with other city departments to ensure city-wide topics such as equity, resilience and homelessness are treated similarly across departments. Dec. 8, 2020 Study Session Memo | December 8, 2020 Study Session Video.

On December 15 th , staff from all parts of the Parks and Recreation department came together for a three-hour conversation focused on identifying specific accomplishments and areas for improvement related to the existing and new white papers. The charette was kicked off with keynote speakers from Vancouver, San Diego and Denver, who discussed their lessons learned from incorporating equity into their parks and recreation master plans and everyday work. Breakout sessions then focused on asset management, recreation programs and services, resilience and equity. Staff identified specific accomplishments, areas for improvement, information or data gaps, areas for greatest impact, and big ideas for each of these topics. The results of the workshop will directly inform the development of the System Overview Snapshot.

Next Steps

After the first of the year, staff will be gearing up for the first community engagement window in late-January and February. The public will be provided the System Overview Snapshot and be asked to provide their feedback on how the department has accomplished its goals from the existing Master Plan and set the stage for moving forward with the update. Specific stakeholder groups will be consulted during this engagement window to begin their engagement in the process and provide input.

October 2020 Update

The Boulder Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update officially kicked off work in September, hosting internal meetings to ensure staff and the consultant are set up for success to tackle this important project. The first phase of the project involves gathering information that has been developed since the previous Master Plan and incorporating that into a document summarizing the current state of the department. Work is also on-going to review and update technical content that was developed to support the previous Master Plan. This technical content, in the form of white papers, lays the foundation for discussing needs and priorities within the Master Plan for topics like financial sustainability and taking care of what we have.

Please sign up for email updates below to keep up to date on what’s going on with this project as we move toward more active engagement with the community.

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BPR Master Plan Update Document Library