In January, city officials will start the process to update the parks master plan, a document that was last updated in 2000.
In nearly two decades of meeting the goals set forth in the last master plan, the city has developed 33 new parks, but residents continue to ask for new amenities each year, said Mickey Ohland, community services planning manager with the city.
“Our existing parks system is a direct result of the policies that have been set and the direction given by our elected officials as well as the invaluable citizen input we have received over the years,” Ohland said. “The city has done an excellent job maintaining its goal of having at least one neighborhood park in each square mile of residential development.”
Chandler’s parks system is composed of 67 developed parks totaling about 1,280 acres with room for growth, Ohland said.
The development of an updated parks master plan, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2020, will detail the city’s plan for maintaining its existing parks, adding amenities and completing unfinished projects.
“What this master plan will do is it’ll take an objective look at our existing and future park needs, and it’ll also look at the city’s strategic framework,” Ohland said. “It’ll incorporate council’s strategic framework goals into the plan, and the master plan will serve as a blueprint for us for future development and any renovations for existing parks.”
To create the master plan, city officials will look at existing maintenance requirements and will ask residents to offer their thoughts on what amenities they would like to see in the Chandler parks system.
“City parks are your opportunity to create a hub for the community, a place where residents can disengage from electronics and find a healthy outlet that promotes opportunities to be outside,” parks board member Melanie Dykstra said. “It brings us a sense of togetherness for Chandler.”
Improving the parks system
Addressing the need for potentially two more community parks in the fast-growing southeast Chandler area will likely be addressed in the plan update, Ohland said.
Southeast Chandler has seen an increase in residential development over the last several years. As more houses are built, the need for parks—particularly community parks—increases, Ohland said.
“All the parkland has been acquired, but when you look at it, we are lacking a community park and recreational amenities in southeast Chandler,” Ohland said.
The 2000 parks master plan set several goals, Ohland said.
The city was to continue to design and develop a system of neighborhood parks, one per square mile of residential development; continue to design and develop a system of one 25- to 50-acre community park per 2-mile radius; and continue to develop Tumbleweed Park and Snedigar Sportsplex.
Ohland said in addition, it has been a longstanding goal of the city to develop at least one 10-acre neighborhood park within each square mile of residential development. Neighborhood parks are located as close to the center of the square mile as possible to improve access by foot or bike.
In the last four years the city has added five new parks—Valencia Park, Centennial Park, Citrus Vista Park, Meadowbrook Park and Homestead South Park—which added about 40 acres of parkland to the city.
“Every city is different and has their own criteria for a parks system,” Ohland said. “Chandler places a high importance on quality of life; it’s a big aspect in the city, and parks feed into that.”
Ohland said in fiscal year 2019-20 the city plans to complete several projects at pre-existing parks, such as multiuse field lighting and sand volleyball courts at Chuparosa Park, multiuse fields and bocce ball courts at Tumbleweed Park, renovations at Summit Point Park and East Mini Park, and improvements to San Tan Park.
The city also has land set aside for three undeveloped parks: Mesquite Groves Park, Lantana Ranch Park and Homestead North Park. Mesquite Groves and Lantana Ranch are planned community parks in southeast Chandler. Homestead North Park is a small planned park off Chandler Boulevard and Cooper Road.
Residents hope for more courts, fields and other amenities
The master plan update will begin in January and is expected to take about a year, Ohland said.
In early December, council is expected to award a contract to a consultant to lead the city through the process. Stakeholder meetings will be held in the spring and summer, and feedback will be used to develop recommendations and determine priorities.
A presentation to City Council is expected to be made in December 2020.
Dykstra said input from residents will be the most important part in creating the next master plan guiding document.
“What I really hope to see is the community engaged and involved in what amenities they’d like to see, what gaps they’d like to fill,” she said.
Ohland said the city has received requests for additional amenities over the years, including most recently in last year’s annual budget survey. Ohland said residents asked for additional spray pads, more lighted sports fields, more dog parks, a track for dirt bikes, additional skate parks, more pickleball courts, unique playgrounds and additional sport courts.
Ohland said that in addition to working on plans for future amenities, city officials will have to take a look at some of the older parks that are a couple decades old and see what requires updating.
Adding value to the community
Parks and amenities give residents a place to spend time outdoors, but Realtor Kathleen Banister said parks may also add value to Chandler homes.
“Just as the curb appeal of a house attracts buyers, so does the beauty of the surrounding area. People enjoy living near parks, greenbelts and beautiful spaces where they can enjoy mature trees and nature,” Banister said. “Parks in the vicinity may increase home values and, in turn, increase revenues from property taxes.”
Banister said larger parks with more amenities, such as Tumbleweed Park, can also draw in visitors to the city who, in turn, spend money in local restaurants and retail outlets.
“As long as they are well-maintained, parks positively impact home values while they simultaneously improve the environment, increase quality of life and drive the local economy forward,” Banister said.