You may have noticed the addition of athletic facilities in the last year and the good news is it’s just the beginning. The Lakeland Athletic Complex on Memphis-Arlington Road will be slowly expanding over the years with some amazing facilities, but the systemwide plan addresses all existing parks and has a big picture approach. There was a city-wide Parks Planning Meeting that took place at Lakeland Prep in January earlier this year. The event was well attended, and valuable feedback was provided by the public. Park officials believe between that meeting and feedback through other channels there is some good data to build upon.
Approximately 42% of families with children have 5- to 10-year-olds in the home, the next age bracket is children 11–15 year-old, and then thirdly children 16-20 year old. Nearly 40% of parks visitors utilize International Harvester (IH) Park, 25% Windward Slopes came in second and 14% use Oak Ridge Park. Not surprisingly, Plantation Hills Park, which over the years has had the lowest visibility and equipment in need of replacement (which has since been removed), came in last. That space in Plantation Hills was determined to not be suitable for a new playground. However, there will be options for trails utilizing that park down the road.
The top desired amenities lead with running and walking at nearly 100%, followed by swimming, splash pad and biking. This does not mean other categories will be left out, the Athletic Complex mentioned earlier will eventually accommodate a diverse mix of uses. 87% said they would not mind paying a fee to use amenities at a community center which was another topic of discussion at the planning meeting at LPS in January. Restrooms led the most in need of improvement category.
The “High Priority Parks” were determined to be Winward Slopes Park, Zadie Kuehl, and the Lakeland Athletic Complex. There have been considerable improvements planned for IH Park as well and that will be shown at a later date according to the Lakeland Parks and Rec department.