New Braunfels people love their parks and want to continue to see growth and maintenance in local parkland.
This was the theme of the city parks and recreation department overview given by parks director Stacey Dicke at a Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday afternoon. Dicke presented on the state of the parks department to the Natural Resources Committee, which meets quarterly.
“I highlighted some of the higher-level outcomes from our parks and recreation strategic master plan. That document was approved January of 2018,” Dicke said.
The parks and recreation strategic master plan is the department’s guiding document for the next five to seven years, Dicke said.
“We did a lot of public input for that document, so we held public meetings, stakeholder meetings, we did some surveying and put all that information together,” Dicke said.
This was all done before the 2019 Community Survey, Dicke said.
The biggest takeaway from both the public input gathering and community survey was that New Braunfelsers love the parks, Dicke said.
“Which is no surprise as much as they’re used,” Dicke said. “They are looking for opportunities to participate in outdoor recreation — so hiking, camping, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, all those types of things.”
As far as facilities, residents want to see more trails and additional parkland.
“We looked at our current level of service and we looked at that in terms of park acreage, and currently we have about 6½ acres of parkland per 1,000 people,” Dicke said. “And then national average is 10.1, so it’s up to each community to decide, ‘What do you want your level of service to be?’”
In the past 15 years since she’s been in the office, Dicke said, the department has added 200 acres of parkland. However, due to the rapid population growth, less acres per 1,000 people are now available.
“I mean that’s 150 acres of the new sports complex that’s not developed yet but it’s still part of our acreage, and then Fischer Park is 62 acres, and those were big adds,” Dicke said. “But you can see the amount that we’ve added has not kept up pace with how fast the population is growing.”
According to the presentation Dicke showed, in 1980 there were 14 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents in 1980. Today, there are 6.35 acres.
“We heard from residents during the public input portion that they would like to have access to more parks and so in the strategic plan we set a goal, which was approved by council, of 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents,” Dicke said.
As far as Das Rec, there are almost 15,000 members, and its expected to have produced a 120% cost recovery at the end of this year, Dicke said.
“Which council had set a goal for us to be at 90% cost recovery,” Dicke said.
With such a high attendance rate, the extra funds will go toward miantenance.
“That’s great that we don’t have to hit the general fund with those needs and requests because we’ll have them,” Dicke said. “When you have 15,000 people using the facility, there’s wear and tear on the facility. So we’ll be able to keep it nice and pleasing to our members.”
The last part of the update had to do with the three parks-related 2019 bond projects approved, which total to about $31.5 million and include all ability park enhancements, Comal cemetery wall stabilization, and phase one of the sports complex.
For more information on New Braunfels parks and recreation department, visit www.nbtexas.org/154/Parks-Recreation.