The Boulder Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) manages one of the nation’s premier parks and recreation systems, but like many communities faced challenges regarding its financial sustainability, succession planning, facility operations, asset management, and community engagement. Both short- and long-term solutions were needed as part of an update to the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan to address these issues and form alignment among staff, advisory boards, city leadership, and the general public about a path forward for the community.
The Eppley Institute worked with BPRD and other project partners to leverage the process of updating the master plan as a way to address these needs in a comprehensive way. A robust, fully-integrated public engagement effort anchored the planning effort which involved stakeholder meetings, a statistically valid community-wide survey, public open houses, a public website, technical advisory group, and two PathfindersSM workshops. Thorough research on critical topical areas such as BPRD’s asset management program, recreation services, organizational effectiveness, national benchmarks, and financial outlook also informed the process and helped facilitate consensus regarding the plan’s strategic recommendations.
Updating the Parks and Recreation Master Plan yielded outcomes far beyond the publication of a planning document. Sustained technical engagement with multiple project stakeholders allowed the planning team to identify issues, explore solutions, and develop a shared vision for the future of the department. Specifically, the plan has provided a revised and widely-supported organizational mission statement, a prioritization scheme for capital improvement projects and recreation services, level of service options for land and facilities, alternative long-term operations funding strategies, and tools for assessing the effectiveness of BPRD’s programs and services on the overall well-being of the community.