Richard J. Kerber, Director, Planning Design and Natural Resources
Patty J. Stevens, Chief of Park Planning
Cleveland Metroparks 2020: The Emerald Necklace Centennial Plan
Issues and Opportunities Report
Cleveland Metroparks completed a comprehensive planning process in 1995 that established a framework for actions to enhance the overall system, facilities and services in conservation, education and recreation. The plan, Metroparks 2000: Conserving Our Natural Heritage was documented as two companion volumes:
- Park District Plan
- Reservation Concept Value Plans
The Park District Plan outlined guiding principles as strategic commitments that served as the philosophical context for capital improvements and system wide initiatives, which have been undertaken over the past decade. The strategic commitments represented an organizational response to critical issues, community needs, interests, and trends identified through a process of significant engagement of users, non-users, staff, professional experts and regional leaders.
The Reservation Concept Value Plans, guided by the strategic commitments, recommended long term strategies for each reservation in terms of conservation, recreation, education, infrastructure and land protection. The plans, conceptual in nature, formed the basis for capital improvement and natural resource protection activities. A significant accomplishment of the Metroparks 2000 effort was a comprehensive inventory and assessment of existing facilities and infrastructure.
The Metroparks 2000: Park District Plan and the Reservation Concept Value Plans have guided Cleveland Metroparks since 1995. Over the next two years (2011-2012), Cleveland Metroparks will undertake a process to set forth a vision to guide future decision-making and priorities for the next decade, i.e., to 2020. In general, the process will include the following basic elements:
- Review of the current plan, i.e. Metroparks 2000: Conserving Our Natural Heritage.
- Review and update of the critical issues and trends affecting the region.
- Evaluation of community needs, interests and visions.
- Affirmation and refinement of Cleveland Metroparks strategic commitments as the philosophical underpinnings of Metroparks 2020.
- Development of individual reservation plans, perhaps similar in scope to the Metroparks 2000 Concept Value Plans.
The planning approach will be a participatory process with extensive internal and external review, input and plan formulation. It will be designed to build a common vision and framework for strategic action in the realization of Cleveland Metroparks mission through the next decade, i.e. 2020. The process will be organized around a series of progressive steps that move through a refinement process of inquiry, discovery, understanding, evaluation, imagining, response and plan identification. Recognizing the complexities, dynamic qualities and interdependencies of a regional, highly urbanized open space system, the planning process is intended to result in a framework for supporting decision making. Plan recommendations will be developed as guidelines for future, system wide strategies with specific recommendations for individual reservations as Reservation Concept Value Plans.
The basic steps of the planning process include:
- Establishment of plan objectives and context
- Inventory and analysis of existing conditions (market, facilities, natural resources, etc.)
- Evaluation of issues and trends
- Identification of strategic commitments
- Preparation of reservation “Concept Value Plans”
- Plan monitoring and adaptive management
Cleveland Metroparks will integrate community involvement into the planning process as a means to gain input relative to public needs/interests, issues/concerns, values and perceptions relative to the park district. To ensure appropriate involvement a variety of mechanisms will be utilized including:
The planning process was initiated in 2010 with internal mapping and data collection. Park staff, organized into reservation planning teams reviewed the current conditions of the reservations and the facilities. A user and non-user assessment was initiated with an anticipated completion in 2011. The survey will include 4,500 individual interviews and additional 1500 telephone interviews. The survey work is consistent with previous surveys conducted over the past 30 years and will consequently enable a valuable evaluation of trends and shifts in utilization patterns.
A “strategic vision” component of the plan is being developed in 2011 utilizing extensive community input and outside consultants. The consultants will provide expertise in large scale environmental planning, water front recreation and conservation, park operations and management, and “place making” with parks as a public health and wellness investment. Interviews with community leaders, community forums and the user/non-user survey will be the primary means of gathering public input. The “Strategic Vision” component of the Centennial Plan is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2011.
During 2012, the “Strategic vision” will be used to inform the refinement of Reservation Concept Value Plans and include specific facility and site improvement recommendations for each of the reservations.