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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 11:53 am | A Few Clouds 59º


Hiking Trails and Sports Fields Top Goleta Recreation Needs, Assessment Report Finds

The City of Goleta would need an estimated $15 million in capital over the next 20 years to cover the cost of recreational needs identified in a recent report.

Much of the costs could go toward building hiking trails, youth baseball fields and soccer fields — the highest priorities found in a Recreation Needs Assessment Report, which was created to serve as a foundational document for Goleta’s future.

RJM Design Group Inc. presented the results of the months-long assessment to the Goleta City Council on Tuesday night.

The firm crafted the 300-page assessment based on an inventory and gap analysis, as well as stakeholder interviews, telephone and electronic surveys, and community workshops.

The city paid RJM Design Group $75,000 to complete the assessment, which can be viewed by clicking here.

The City Council voted 4-0 to direct staff to work with the Parks & Recreation Commission to parcel out the report’s priorities and funding sources. Mayor Paula Perotte was absent.

In addition to “highest priority” activities, the report identified “high priority” items as a recreation/civic center for teenagers and seniors, a skate park and a swimming pool.

Nearly 900 Goleta residents participated in the assessment, including local sports groups, said Zachary Mueting of RJM Design Group.

The report looked at deficits and surpluses in Goleta’s current facilities through 2035 and noted different survey types prioritized items differently. For example, Mueting said, skate parks ranked higher during in-person interactions than on the phone.

“We all recreate differently at different ages,” he said, highlighting the city’s growing Hispanic population, 64 percent of whom are under age 44.

About 73 percent of those who took the phone survey said they loved to jog, hike and run, but most of them were doing so independently and not at Goleta facilities.

Mueting suggested the city try fulfilling sports field needs at existing sites or through joint-use agreements with public school districts — ideas the council liked.

The report emphasized connecting trails to adjacent open space, parks, schools or commercial areas and strongly suggested building an aquatics facility and bringing parks up to modern maintenance standards.

Mueting also proposed the city could add overlays on parks to have both soccer and baseball fields at the same facility, just not at the same time.

Goleta is already in the midst of planning its own community/civic center.

Council members lauded the depth of the document, although City Councilman Michael Bennett asked the firm to correct what he called inaccuracies, such as the county operating a park within city limits.

“The question now is how we use it for the next steps,” City Councilman Roger Aceves said. “My biggest concern is how we break this up and send it back to the recreation commission to work on it. I hate to give them a project and say, ‘hey there’s no money here.’”

City Manager Michelle Greene said staff members were preparing to share thoughts on what projects should come first, likely as part of a five-year forecast.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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