Master Plans:

(also referred to as comprehensive plans or system plans) Typically provide a five to ten- year roadmap into the future.  These plans provide a system-wide analysis of a park and recreation agency and provide recommendations related to the physical assets, programs, and services.  Typically, these plans include elements such as a demographics review and population projections, park and facility inventory and assessment, mapping of amenities, level of service standards, community input processes, a review of recreation programs, and a detailed capital plan and implementation schedule of recommendations. Some agencies also include a financial review, funding and revenue strategy ideas, as well as operational components such as maintenance assessments.  Master plans should be aligned with a city’s comprehensive plan.

Strategic Plans

Whereas a master plan provides direction for physical assets and services, a strategic plan relates to the leadership infrastructure, or the intangible assets of an organization.  As a result of fast changing times, these plans generally cover a three to five year planning horizon. Elements included in a strategic plan typically include mission, vision and value development, organizational effectiveness and efficiency, leadership system and organizational cultural elements, use of technology, internal support processes, knowledge management, workforce capacity, and learning and growth areas.  The strategic plan analyzes where we are today, where we want to be tomorrow, and how do we want to get there.

Community Needs Assessment

This type of assessment analyzes the needs of the community and is frequently used as part of a master plan or strategic plan process, or is a stand-alone piece used to identify community needs, how well those needs are being met, and projecting needs into the future.  The process can include a statistically or non-statistically valid survey, focus groups, community forums, online engagement, workshops, and other methods of engagement.

Community Engagement

The days of a talking head facilitating a public meeting are over. First of all, people are just not interested in going to a static public meeting to hear someone talking about the subject at hand.  Peoples’ lives are too busy to take the time to attend.  Now, there are a variety of engagement opportunities in communities.  These include interactive workshops or open houses, customer interviews at a special event or a program such as a Farmer’s Market, or online engagement opportunities.  Soon, virtual reality will become a reality for public engagement.  Communities typically have a community engagement process as part of a master plan or strategic plan project.  However, community engagement should be an ongoing process and should include intentional outreach into inclusiveness in attracting a variety of interests, ages, ethnicities, abilities, and gender.