Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Check the wish list: Carolina Beach wants input on parks and rec master plan

The Carolina Beach Recreation Center, which has undergone extensive renovations in recent years. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
The Carolina Beach Recreation Center, which has undergone extensive renovations in recent years. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

The Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation Department is looking for input from the public to help form their 2017 – 2022 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan.

A survey has been posted online to glean information from town residents as well as others who use Carolina Beach parks and facilities.

“Any time you have a master plan in the works, you want to hear from the community and the residents,” Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation Director Eric Jelinski said. “The input we receive helps us to continue to determine our long-term vision for the department.”

In recent years, extensive improvements have been made to the town’s recreation center, which has a new basketball court in the gym as well as upgraded fitness rooms. Certain programs have also been expanded, and some parks facilities have been upgraded. Jelinski said there are no specific goals yet for this next master plan, which is why the responses are critical.

“It’s wide open to what the citizens want to see, whether it’s more facilities and amenities, additions to our parks and trails, or more programs,” said Jelinski, who added that this is their chance to “shoot for the moon” with their suggestions. “Public participation is extremely important, especially when we’re talking about the use of taxpayer dollars.”

While having a master plan does help town officials develop a budget for the department each fiscal year, Jelinski said it is more critical for another form of funding.

“Ultimately the town council creates the budget, we don’t, but what this allows us to do is create a blueprint for what we need,” the director said. “Having a master plan is a more crucial step in applying for grants. If we apply for money for a project or program, they want to see it in our master plan so they know we’re committed to it and have a plan of action.”

Carolina Beach. File photo by Hannah Leyva.
Carolina Beach. File photo by Hannah Leyva.

Though this is the first master plan Jelinski has been in charge of putting together since becoming director, he said a public survey was also done before the last one was put together several years ago. While that one was only available in hard copy form, this one is all online in order to generate more responses.

“I had a goal of 1,000 [completed surveys], but we would certainly like more than that,” Jelinski said. “The more answers the better, because the greater the number of responses, the more valid the survey is.”

The survey is open to all, not just Carolina Beach residents, but demographics questions are asked at the beginning in order to see what different groups of people (for example, residents vs. locals from neighboring areas) see as a priority.

“The way our membership is now, 75 percent of the people are town residents,” Jelinski said. “The other 25 percent are not residents but come from Kure Beach or just over the bridge [in Wilmington] to use our facilities and amenities. It’s important to hear from them, too.”

The survey opened last month and will close on August 1. To take the survey, click here. For more information about the Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation Department and what they have to offer, visit their website.

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