CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Conservation is hoping to gather feedback before developing a plan to guide its parks and natural areas over the next decade.
Staff have put out an online public survey that is open until Tuesday, with the hopes of reaching underserved populations in particular. Daniel Gibbons, with the conservation department, said staff also is working to connect with nonprofits and community leaders that might better know who those people might be.
“There are populations in our city especially and other areas that are just not engaged with nature and that might just be because it’s not in their culture, they didn’t grow up with it,” Gibbons said. “Or simply they’re not aware of the opportunities. Or more importantly too, the don’t have the resources to access it.”
That county’s emphasis on underserved populations falls in line with one of the National Recreation and Park Assocation’s three “pillars” or areas of emphasis for the year, which is equity to ensure all people have access to parks and recreation.
The survey will inform the department’s strategic planning process. Linn County Conservation’s previous strategic plan is about 7 years old and will guide staff over the next five to 10 years.
The county’s consultant, the Institute for Conservation Leadership, will then refine survey responses to develop the plan. It’s scheduled to be completed in December, Gibbons said.
“That is a broad document really that we reference with just about everything we do,” Gibbons said. “At this point it’s gong to be really hard to say what we will see specifically out of this because we’re still in the data-gathering process.”
The consultant’s contract is worth $55,800.
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The new strategic plan also will help identify priorities for the $40 million Linn County Water and Land Legacy bond, which passed in November 2016. Projects are spread across quality, parks and trails.
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