The City of South Bend commissioned the JPR team – which included the nationally renowned park and recreation planning firm, GreenPlay, LLC – to provide planning services to assist in the development of their 5-Year Park Master Plan. With a population over 100,000, South Bend has a rich tradition offering a multitude of park programs to fulfill the wants and needs of a diverse community. Nonetheless, the City wanted to gain a better understanding of how it could improve upon its 57 parks and 1,200-acres of park land to meet the growing demands of a 21st Century City.
The development of the Plan consisted of formulating goals and objectives with an emphasis on establishing an inclusive public dialogue. During the planning process the project team held 26 public meetings and conducted a statistically valid survey – receiving online survey responses from more than 1,000 people. The information gathered from these forums helped in the assessment and analysis of South Bend’s needs with respect to parks and open spaces, recreation, community building strategies, and organizational structure. Furthermore, the analysis identified the necessary funding requirements for deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects.
Completion of the City of South Bend’s 5-Year Park Master Plan resulted in a $5 million parks bond to begin funding critical projects identified during the analysis. The plan now serves as a user-friendly framework for the City’s ongoing stewardship of its existing natural resources, as well as a guide for further enhancement to meet the needs of an ever-changing city. The document provides a clear set of goals, policies, standards, and objectives for achieving the parks mission statement: “Building community through people, parks, and programs.”