By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls residents will have an opportunity to help shape the future of city parks this week.
The city is hosting a series of three public workshops where it will solicit public input on the needs and opportunities in the parks system. The workshops are part of a state parks funded program where the city will put together a parks master plan meant to serve the community for the next two decades. The plan will outline the goals and guidelines of individual state, county and city parks that are located within the city limits and the parks system as a whole.
Mayor Paul Dyster said the city has been anxious to get the plan together so that as parks are renovated and added they fit within the parameters of the master plan.
"I think we're all looking forward to the day when we have a parks master plan that we can use well into the future," he said.
The sessions will be divided into three regions of the city:
• The western Niagara Falls workshop will be held at the Maplewood Avenue school from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight
• The eastern Niagara Falls workshop will be held at the LaSalle Preparatory school from 6 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 30
• The central Niagara Falls workshop will be at Niagara Falls High School. The date for the central region is to yet to be determined, but will take place within a few weeks.That date will be announced on the project's website, www.nfcityinapark.com.
Dyster said a major goal of the project is to have the parks working as a system so that they compliment one another.
"Connectivity between the parks is very important," the mayor said.
Dyster said community input combined with data collected by the city has worked well to give city residents the types of parks that they want.
For example, neighbors in the area surrounding Stephenson Park let city officials know that they wanted a street hockey court at a public meeting a few years ago and neighborhood kids now have a place where they can play.
That sort of community input at these meetings could shape the future of parks for years to come, Dyster said.
"We built that facility based on input from the neighborhood."