Park planning

·2 min read

Jul. 2—Over the past decade or so, Cullman's leaders have thrown major support behind enriching municipally-hosted park and rec offerings. Now, those presently tasked with charting a future course for today's Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism (CPRST) department are asking residents to have a say in directing where the city's parks system goes next.

At a "Planning for the Future" public forum this week, CPRST solicited residents' thoughts about what type of parks-related activities and amenities they'd like to see in Cullman over the course of the next 10 years. Held at Terri Pines country club and open to anyone in the community, the forum was only the first step in what organizers say is a deliberate and ongoing process to invite public engagement as the department weighs ways to bolster its current lineup of parks and programs.

The informal gathering served as a way for local leaders to gain early insight into residents' parks priorities, soliciting guests' suggestions in an open-ended discussion that assured no idea — no matter how ambitious — was off the table. In keeping with that approach, guests' feedback targeted a wide variety of interests: Formal city support for community theatre and the arts, reimagining the reach and administration of local library facilities and services, and tapping the current nationwide popularity of the racket sport of pickleball all were just some of the ideas residents proposed as areas of future emphasis.

Led by the Indianapolis-based municipal planning firm PROS Consulting, the session also collected broader data on what locals most strongly associate with a successful parks program in Cullman. Using onscreen word clouds to collect real-time feedback, the forum reflected that those in attendance generally value qualities like cleanliness, well-maintained facilities, and a variety of program offerings as general strengths that should suffuse both current and future CPRST projects.

Parks director Nathan Anderson said the forum won't be the only chance for members of the public to offer their parks suggestions. Additional public meetings will inform the department's bigger-picture goals, as parks and city leaders prepare to draft an upcoming 10-year master plan.

Even without deploying next-step ideas, the city's slate of park and rec amenities is presently experiencing a growth spurt: A massive new outdoor water park just opened adjacent to the Cullman Wellness & Aquatic Center complex, construction has begun on a new skatepark just north of Depot Park, and the city is still eyeing a construction start for a new multipurpose civic complex to replace the former civic center property it sold it sold in 2019.