By Kathryn Rice
Maryville Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Stubblefield is developing a long-term master plan for Maryville’s 12 parks and facilities within Maryville city limits.
Stubblefield has been MPR director since October 2018. He noted during his interview with the then board members, MPR didn’t have a master plan for the city’s park system.
“A master plan is a road map to where you want to go,” Stubblefield said about the decision to undertake the process. “It puts everyone: the city, the citizens, the park board and the MPR staff on the same page.”
The process started with surveys to determine how Maryville citizens wanted their tax dollars spent. The park program receives funding from a 30¢ per $100 assessed valuation of properties inside Maryville’s city limits, an 1/8 of 1¢ sales tax, and fees charged for services. The parks’ system also collects 1/8 of 1¢ use tax on the internet sales. This year, the community center’s 1/8 of 1¢ sales tax will end, marking the building’s 20 year existence.
The challenge for MPR is the aging infrastructure of the park’s system, the raising of the minimum wage, and the cost of amenities is increasing. The community center has aging HVAC and lighting which was installed when the structure was built. The Maryville Aquatic Center (MAC) was built 27 years ago and most of the parks have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues.
ADA issues include accessible bathrooms with wider doors and sidewalks to the bathroom. Even the newer park, Donaldson Westside Park, as well as the community center and MAC, will need non-gender specific bathrooms.
The board’s wish list for each park includes:
• Beal: a new shelter, walking loop around the park, renovation of the tennis courts and adding pickleball courts, and new playground equipment.
• MAC: add small features in the zero depth portion of pool, and rentable cabanas for birthday parties, etc.
• Donaldson: shade structures, a walking loop and improvements to all of the fields.
• Happy Hollow: ADA issues, parking and a new shelter.
• Judah: ADA issues and the walking bridge needs to be addressed. Stubblefield will need to deal with the Army Corp of Engineers and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources because Peach Creek is in a flood plain.
• Sisson Eck: restroom ADA compliant.
• Wabash, Franklin, Sunrise: ADA issues.
•Robertson Crist: ADA issues, plant some native grass gardens, butterfly gardens, maintain walking trail, get the little pond fishable.
• Thomson Splash and Play: parking lot, restrooms and shelter.
• Community Center: besides HVAC and lighting, the fitness equipment will need to be updated or replaced.
MPR’s budget is struggling to keep up with routine maintenance of the existing infrastructure and has no room for major repairs. At this point, there is not a cost estimate available for the projects outlined above.
An architectural firm is currently working on the master plan. It will include possible plans, project improvements and the rough outline of the parks system. Stubblefield is hoping to take the plan to the MPR board in March or April for consideration.