Every 10 years, the city of Universal City updates the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, which serves as a guideline for city parks and recreation projects.

City Council approved a resolution to adopt the plan for 2023-33 during the May 2 meeting following a presentation by Brent Luck, president and park planner for Luck Design Team.

Public Works Director Randy Luensmann said the priorities within the plan were compiled based on feedback from city staff, residents, and the Universal City Parks and Recreation Commission.

The plan lists the top four priorities for outdoor recreational facilities, such as trails, playscapes/playgrounds, natural areas and open space.

The backstory

In September, city staff developed the city of Universal City Parks, Open Space and Trails Plan Survey 2022-2032 to gather resident input regarding needs and priorities for parks and recreational activities.

According to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, 457 survey responses were completed by residents.

Alongside the survey, Luck Design completed an inventory of the city’s park system, which ranked the quality of amenities at each park.

City staff also developed park acreage and amenity standards with the parks commission.

According to the plan, the city developed its park standards to provide excellent service to its residents as the city continues to grow.

Using input from city staff, the resident surveys and the commission, the design team established high, moderate and low priorities for indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.

Meeting highlights

Council Member Phil Vaughan asked about the rankings and whether they would affect the city when applying for grant applications or additional funding.

Luck said the priorities help the city appear competitive when applying for grants and additional funding for projects within the priorities. If City Council chooses to pursue a project not in the top priorities, the plan can be updated to reorder priorities.

Vaughan also had concerns regarding the costs of projects, and he asked if the commission could provide a prioritized list and cost estimates for potential projects the city could work on as money is available.

Luck said that cost breakdowns were not included in the new plan due to the increase in costs, which have made prices more difficult to pin down.

“The fluctuation with inflation and all of that is anywhere from 25-35%, so that number wasn’t really telling us anything in real time or the duration of the 10-year horizon,” Luck said.

Council approved the adoption of the plan in a 4-1 vote with Vaughan voting due to not having the list of ranked projects with cost estimates.

“I’d like to see [the list] before we adopt it,” Vaughan said.

What's next

With the adoption of the plan, the commission will use it as a guideline for upcoming city projects.

Luensmann said the commission will utilize the priorities within the plan to identify specific projects and bring them before the City Council as budget items.

“I bring [City Council] projects through the budget process, through the city manager, and [City Council] approves it,” Luensmann said.