The Bowling Green Planning Commission voted on Wednesday to forward two section updates of the city’s comprehensive plan to the council for consideration.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Parks and Recreation and Economic Development sections to council.
Wednesday’s meeting marked the commission’s first meeting since Jan. 5; the February meeting was canceled due to bad weather.
According to a memo sent to the commission by planning director Heather Sayler, the proposed five-year plan for parks and recreation was drafted after community focus group meetings, a survey of the needs of recreation was sent to a random selection of households and there was preparation of documents on financial needs, as well as the park board, park foundation and staff retreats.
The park board received the plan at its November meeting, where the focus continued on maintenance and partnering with organizations on projects.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley spoke to the commission about the plan.
“There’s a lot of stuff in there that we’re really looking forward to working on,” she said.
Highlights include an inclusive playground project, outdoor pickle ball courts and improvements to the disc golf course at Carter Park.
There is also the paving of the loop and the parking lots and the addition of a walking path, the reconfiguration of the horseshoe area and the addition of shade structures near the baseball diamond and the skate park at the City Park.
The plan also includes continuing paving of pathways and adding two additional sculptures underway at Simpson Garden Park; replacement of HVAC system at Wintergarden/St. John’s Woods Nature Center; and adding or upgrading cameras and converting all outhouses to timed locks in all parks.
“As with all shots, this is a living, breathing, flowing document,” Otley said.
Regarding the update of the section on economic development, a memo from Sayler to the committee noted that the current 14-page section on economic development was originally approved in 1987 and updated in 1996 and 1998. The general theme of the document has not been changed.
“With the new leadership of Bowling Green’s economic development organization, increased interest from City Council, and a general desire to align economic development goals with recent planning documents, the result has been the day of this section,” the memo continues.
Bowling Green’s director of economic development, Kati Thompson, provided the draft to the council’s finance committee in January, prompting it to be referred to the planning commission.
The draft, the memo says, was written following a six-month strategic planning process led by Bowling Green Economic Development and “the outcome of the strategic planning process informed the overarching goals and activities of the economic development efforts in Bowling Green, and is reflected in the proposed project.
Sayler’s memo notes that the proposed one-page update is “much more strategic and brief in nature for several reasons,” among which it is “intended to be more complementary to other recent planning documents and processes. , where a lot of time and investment has already been spent.
And “the world of economic development is changing rapidly with technology and other factors beyond our control that mean too much detail can be too cumbersome and lead to more frequent and unnecessary plan updates.”
Additionally, “the focus on broad goals, similar to the Seven Bowling Green Principles in the future land use plan, will help provide useful guidance for economic development decision-making processes.”
Thompson, in her remarks to the commission on Wednesday, said she wanted the project to be a comprehensive plan and capture key goals while allowing the city to be nimble.
“I didn’t want to go into a ton of detail in the plan unless you all intended to update it on a yearly basis,” Thompson said.
She highlighted the plan’s four strategic economic development objectives: sustained economic growth, the development of infrastructure and public services, the encouragement of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the improvement of the quality of life.
Commission Chairman Bob McOmber and Judy Ennis both praised the brevity of the draft update.
“It’s a joy because it’s generic enough that you know what you’re going to do,” but frequent updates aren’t necessary, Ennis said.
Mark Remeis, Member of the Commission, suggested that an additional bullet dealing with redevelopment or change of use be added to the section of the document on major economic development efforts. Member Will Airhart suggested the wording “Identify redevelopment opportunities”.
This addition was approved unanimously.