The Great Neck Park District hosted its first public meeting focused on the creation of a new master plan on Thursday night, with its consultant setting a baseline of where the district is and soliciting feedback on where it should go.
Austin Hochstetler, a senior project manager with Pros Consulting, said their goal is to create a “compelling vision” and direction for the district that will guide policy, help set priorities, and create a framework for expenditures.
“This is the beginning of that,” Hochstetler said.
Residents from within the park district, which spans six villages and some unincorporated areas, filled the presentation room in Great Neck House, both asking and answering questions.
This marks the first time in more than a decade that the Great Neck Park District embarked on creating a master plan. The forging of the last master plan in 2005 involved public hearings, a community survey, and led to greater support for items like Parkwood Pool, additional programs and summer concerts.
Hochstetler said that currently, the park district’s population stands at just over 33,000 with an average age of 44.8 and median household income of $115,559 – both above average.
Hochstetler said they are currently projecting the population to get both greyer and more diverse over the years, but that there will still be a younger population to consider.
“You have to look at this in totality,” Hochstetler said.
Currently they are at the data gathering phase, Hochstetler said. They will be working with the ETC Institute to send out a survey to randomized residents within the park district, post an online survey and solicit feedback, he said, and have already worked with focus groups.
“We want to touch it all in terms of comprehensiveness,” Hochstetler said.
At the meeting, residents answered via clickers a series of questions about their use of the park district, their satisfaction with it and its programs, and what the district should focus on and what it can do better.
71 percent of attendees said they use the district weekly, 91 percent of attendees rated the district as good or excellent, and three quarters of them described the programs as excellent or good.
Among the top areas people said the district should focus on in the next two years are park maintenance, quality programming, and new amenities.
One man asked why the issue of limited parking in the district was not raised. Hochstetler said they will be factoring that in as well and the scope of what they could ask that day was limited.
Another person raised the idea of an indoor recreational facility for the district.
Afterward, attendees would also write down suggestions on boards on where the park district should focus.