County council review of parks capital plan focuses on Heritage Farm
When it comes to the future of the 78th Street Heritage Farm, Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy is ready to take action. During a work session Wednesday to review a 2024-29 draft capital plan for the parks and lands division, Medvigy said he’s frustrated by the seemly unending inaction.
Medvigy said Heritage Farm was one of the first things he began paying attention to, even before he was elected to the county council.
“There was so much effort, open houses in the paper every week. And then, nothing,” Medvigy said.
He said many new residents have moved into the area since then and have no knowledge of those public outreach efforts, which were done in 2017 and 2018.
“I was hoping for real progress,” Medvigy said, adding he doubts the county is on track with the capital plan. “Back in 2019, I thought the wetlands enhancement was done. And now I’m seeing we’re putting off trails for another two years until that’s done.”
Previous discussions about selling the Heritage Farm property to allow development have been abandoned, Medvigy said. Instead, he hopes the council will support preserving the property.
“Let’s make one decision to move forward. Let’s conserve it for farm use and take (it) off the table. We had some discussion of a homeless shelter, we had some discussion of some commercial activity on the northeast corner, let’s put all that to rest,” Medvigy said.
Updates to the capital plan are part of the department’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, which is required by the state’s Growth Management Act. The 2023-2028 parks plan was adopted by the council in April 2022.
“It allows us to determine what projects do we need and do we have the resources to meet those needs,” Parks and Lands Division Manager Rocky Houston told the council.
This is the second year the capital plan has been updated annually. Previously, the plan was updated every six years. Houston said updating the plan each year helps the county be more responsive to changing community needs.
One change in this year’s plan is the addition of preventative maintenance costs.
“Technically, that’s not part of our capital budget, that’s part of our operations budget,” Houston said. “Philosophically, we want to make sure we’re making it known and making it a priority that we’re extending the useful life of the existing assets that we have, to not create a major maintenance or replacement requirement.”
Included in the maintenance budget are things like painting, replacing boards on benches, paving, patches for asphalt and concrete repairs, replacing wood chips and other things, Houston added.
Major maintenance, which is included in the capital budget, covers the replacement of equipment and structures in parks. Houston said this could include things like replacing a restroom or sports field.
Capital improvements are now divided into two categories in the plan, stewardship and new development. Stewardship covers capital improvements to existing parks with a focus on enhancing recreation opportunities. New development covers the development of new parks. Sites for new parks are ranked by need, return on development, matters of equity and other things, Houston said.
Other items in the plan discussed included new parks to be built, land acquisition, how projects are prioritized, revised budget numbers and funding sources.
To watch the full work session, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IczMbt8HQpI.
— Shari Phiel
Published Oct. 12