Lorraine Walton, a pickleball instructor for the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Department, thinks the city should install lights for the pickleball courts in Memorial Park, since most games occur later in the evenings.

“We love, love, love the nearly new installed pickleball courts at Memorial Park, but they need to have lights on them so that we can extend the playing time and just add more [courts] if we can—indoors or outdoors,” she said.

Zachary Naegele, the nature program supervisor for the Fredericksburg Parks Department, would like to see a trail that loops around the entire Motts Run Reservoir. He also wants to see the Motts Run trails connect to other trail systems in the area.

Bridget McGregor, an organizer for the League of Conservation Voters, said she wants the city to keep things as natural as possible and stay away from doing a lot of development.

“At the same time, I do think that it’s important for people to be able to have access to parks, so having access to open green spaces and having facilities there for people to use to have small local community events,” she said.

These were among the ideas that emerged when Fredericksburg residents were able to share their thoughts to the Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events Department this week in forums Monday and Tuesday. The open-house sessions were held so residents could help develop Fredericksburg’s Parks Strategic Plan.

The city hired Lose Design, a company based in Nashville, to create the strategic plan that will serve as a guide on where the department should develop, expand and improve facilities for the next five to 10 years, said Parks and Recreation Director Jane Shelhorse.

At least 18 people showed up to Tuesday’s meeting. Monday’s event drew about 20. Shelhorse said the light turnout gave people more time to talk to consultants and offer their input.

“We’ve been really happy with the feedback,” she said. “Everybody’s gotten to really talk and give them more than just a dot on the wall.”

Residents were asked to visit five stations that were situated around the auditorium. They were asked to give their input on what they want to see added to the department’s parks, programs and facilities.

At Stations 1 and 2, residents were asked to place a total of five dots at each station to identify the programs and facilities in Fredericksburg they believe are important but are not being properly funded by the city.

Station 3 asked residents to divide 10 poker chips into labeled buckets to show what services they would prioritize in the department’s budget. Improvement and maintenance to existing parks and facilities, for example, was one of the most prioritized categories for residents.

Station 4 had seven tables set up with aerial maps of various parks in Fredericksburg—including Motts Run Reservoir and Hurkamp, Alum Spring, Old Mill, Dixon and Memorial parks—where residents were asked to write their suggestions down for a specific park on sticky notes and place them on the map.

The fifth and final station at the open house was dedicated to any additional ideas that residents may have had. There was also a system-wide map where residents could put general suggestions.

Will Hager, the senior planner for Lose Design, said expanding the trail system was a common request from residents. “We’ve heard a lot about connecting trails and connecting parks with trails or some kind of pedestrian facility,” he said.

“We’ve heard a lot about pickleball, which seems to be really popular,” he added. “We see that a lot. Access to the river has been a theme, as well.”

Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, who attended Tuesday’s open house, said she was “delighted” to see residents come out and share their ideas.

“I think the comments I’m seeing people make are very much to the point and have given us a good opportunity to see what the community wants and even to try to prioritize it,” she said.

The open houses were just the first step in a monthslong planning process, Hager said. Lose Design plans to send out an online survey to city residents in the upcoming weeks that will be based on the input received at the open houses.

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Hailey Bullis: 540/374-5469

hbullis@freelancestar.com

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