Residents unsure about future of Dillon Town Park
September 7, 2012
Confusion about Dillon’s plans for Town Park is running amuck, something Dillon Town Council tried to clear up Tuesday night in an impromptu addition to its work session.
“I think everyone’s gotten a lot of emails and phone calls,” Councilman Kevin Burns said Tuesday. “I think there’s been some distorted messaging going on.”
Town manager Joe Wray and Mayor Ron Holland have both been fielding questions as recently as Tuesday morning from citizens wondering why the town wants to rezone the park … but that rumor is “so untrue,” Wray said.
The town announced it was withdrawing its application to rezone Town Park from parks and open space to public facilities in early August, after a heated Dillon Planning and Zoning Commission meeting drew more than 75 people.
Still, the future of the park is murky for some. Councilman Jason Smith mentioned numerous inquiries from neighbors. Burns felt like there was some confusion on council about the direction.
“I think all of us on the council have just been getting a lot of people asking us what’s going on,” Burns said.
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Currently, staff has budgeted $30,000 to conduct a master plan for the park next year (although the 2013 budget hasn’t been up for approval before council yet). The process would include community input, and then a layout for the park based on feedback.
In addition, the town attorney is working on adding language into the parks and open space zoning to allow for events on Town Park property; Events that already take place there, like the Lighting of Dillon ceremony or Fourth of July children’s activities, are not currently allowed by town code.
“Survey after survey has said, ‘bring events to Town Park,'” Wray said Tuesday.
Councilman Tim Westerberg said he thinks it’s a good idea to include events in the current zoning, since the community probably wouldn’t want to see the existing events taken away.
“Town parks have a tradition around the world of being a place where the public can gather for different types of activities and events,” Wray said. “It is not always centered around recreation.”
Events like the farmers market is one of the park uses identified in the 2007 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which was based on community feedback, Wray said Tuesday. The market is an example Wray frequently cites, although it’s not specifically listed in the plan – but events in general are.
Finding ways to utilize Town Park doesn’t necessarily mean putting the farmers market there, Burns pointed out Tuesday.
The market, held on Buffalo Street, bothers business owners and residents by closing down the road and leaving little for parking. Wray said Thursday the town cannot continue to inconvenience them, and that the park is a consideration for the event, although nothing is set in stone.
Resident Barb Richard, who has been following the Town Park plans for a larger group of interested citizens, thought there was some positive information that came out of the Tuesday work session, although she wishes more people had known about the last-minute topic addition.
“Town Park needs a master plan so the people can say what they want. The broader Greenplay Parks and Recreation Master Plan is out of date,” she said. “There have been many questions brought up this summer that need to be addressed.”
Burns, who added the subject last minute to the agenda, did so to clear up confusion he’s been hearing. When residents ask him what’s going on and he explains the possible upcoming master plan, they seem pleased, he said.
“I think we’re all looking forward to this public process,” Burns said.