Jefferson City Elevates Park System with New Master Plan

Category: Clients, News and Updates

Date: October 3, 2018

With an expanding population, Jefferson City, Missouri knew the demand for parks and recreation facilities was going to increase. The city wanted to create an overall parks plan, outlining how to best update their large system. 

The last formal master plan was completed in 1952, so the city asked our team to review the entire system. Together, we evaluated all 18 parks, as well as the multiple facilities, programs and activities the department provides. The city’s goals for the project were to create an interconnected and accessible system of vibrant public spaces and natural areas. They wanted it to support diverse recreation opportunities and provide a healthy, active and beautiful place to live, work and play for all residents. 

We used community profiles and benchmarking to compare Jefferson City with other similar sized capital cities and local communities. We also identified under-served areas using GIS to gather population and crime statistics. Then, we cross-referenced them with past parks’ upgrades throughout the entire system. This helped us to see which areas were under-served and ensure that upgrades are fairly distributed, providing all residents access to quality outdoor spaces. 

To engage closely with the community, we conducted multiple, citizen input sessions, as well as a citizen survey, to ascertain community wants and needs within the park system. Together, we developed lists of the desired park features and determined placement based on our needs assessment. We also used data from our equitable distribution study to select placement of new amenities. 

After gathering the data, we used design charrettes to develop concepts for each park. This helped us connect the city’s goals with design solutions. 

Based on the feedback we received and the research that was completed, the master plan includes many adult and children's play elements that are at the forefront of current trends, especially for the region. The final results identify strategies and techniques for improving the operation of the parks, updating facilities, and providing equitable distribution of improvements throughout the community. 

Each park has its own unique identity and purpose. Some of the features elevating the city include:  

  • An 80-foot tower, offering views of the entire city
  • A sound garden, featuring multiple, innovative, audible play structures
  • A fire station themed play area that includes a climbing tower and sliding pole with a slide and zip-line
  • A sustainable community garden, which residents can use to grow fruits and vegetables
  • Renovations to an existing golf course
  • Historically inspired sculptures
  • A sprayground featuring a large, blue tiger
  • Climbing boulders for a variety of skill levels
  • Community amphitheaters
  • New shelters for gatherings
  • A boardwalk and marina

Jefferson City’s Parks Master Plan is intended to guide development of the municipal parks system for the next 10-20 years. The first step they will take in carrying it out is to update Community Park, which is in the heart of a highly populated and under-served area. With the project, the city is making good on the commitment made by the 1985 city council. Currently, this effort is in the bidding phase. 

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