Learn about the Parks and Recreation Department Plan

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Project Overview

Department Plan adopted by City Council in August 2022.

After almost two years of working with staff and the community to develop a plan to guide the department for the next five years, the plan received unanimous support from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Planning Board, and City Council.

While the planning process is complete, now comes the fun work to implement the recommendations of the 2022 Department Plan. This plan has already influenced the way the department has organized and proposed the budget for 2023.

Read more about the department plan acceptance by City Council

The 2014 Boulder Parks and Recreation Master Plan 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.

This project is split into five phases.

  • Phase 1: Project Initiation & Kick-off - Current Phase
  • Phase 2: Research and Trends
  • Phase 3: Needs Assessment
  • Phase 4: Implementation Plan
  • Phase 5: Master Plan Adoption
BPR Master Plan timeline. 2020 - Feb., 2021: Research and Trends; March - Aug. 2021: Needs Assessment; Sept. 2021 - March 2021: Implementation Plan (We are here). April - July 2022: Master Plan Acceptance

Phase 1: 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. Phase 1 ends with the project kick-off.

Phase 2 : 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. Phase 2 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.

Phase 3: 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 Phase 3, 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.

Phase 4: 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 Phase 4 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 Phase 4 will ensure that the identified priorities are indeed the priorities of the community.

Phase 5: 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 adopt 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.

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.