It is important for local government leaders to understand the relationship between community parks and recreation services, economic development, and quality of life. The master planning process enables local governments to assess recreation needs and interests of community members. It enables decision makers to prioritize resource allocation decisions for new facilities and rehabilitation projects, programs, and services in a manner that is fiscally responsible, environmentally sound, publicly supported, and politically prudent.
A report produced by the Project for Public Spaces cites several benefits of the parks and recreation master planning process. It notes that good master plans must be flexible and involve stakeholders from the onset. Master plans can provide a foundation for:
- Building credibility, support, and consensus from community members and stakeholders
- Informing citizens about a park’s needs and its community assets
- Identifying capital improvement goals that are needed to assess fiscal requirements and fundraising needs
- Guiding critical decisions about parks and recreation facilities, infrastructure, programs, and services
- Developing recommendations and an implementation strategy
In addition to providing a design blueprint for facilities, the master plan can be used as a promotional document to foster support and political involvement. A successful master planning process will transform a community’s vision into tangible plans to create outstanding recreation opportunities, well-maintained facilities, and a customer-focused and responsive park system.