Last updated: August 27. 2014 1:07PM - 137 Views
By - shalasz@civitasmedia.com

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XENIA — Virtual meetings worked so well for the city’s X Plan process, Xenia is taking its upcoming Play Xenia discussions online as well.

The city has set up a website that will allow residents to log in, review the conclusions of the City’s Recreation Needs Assessment Report, post ideas on how to meet recreation needs, and vote on priorities.

This is the next step for the city, after it surveyed more than 1,000 residents of all ages and conducted focus groups about recreation needs.

The virtual forum is intended to engage citizens without requiring them to attend a traditional public meeting, according to Planning Director Brian Forschner.

“I’ve done a lot of public meetings,” he said. “It’s always a struggle to get people to attend those. I understand why. People are busy. This is more convenient for citizens.”

It encourages discussion among residents, and the voting feature allows the highest priorities to rise to the top. For those who lack internet access or skills, the City will also conduct a series of public meetings in specific areas of Xenia between mid-September and mid-October. Specific dates and times will be announced.

Forschner has taken the 15 conclusions from the needs assessment and posted those to spark discussions. Visitors can react to those or create their own topics.

“It’s really a dialogue among Xenia citizens,” Forschner said.

Play Xenia is an action plan for improving parks and recreation facilities and programming in Xenia. Recreation was identified as a high priority in X-Plan, the City’s comprehensive plan. The planning process began earlier this year and is expected to be complete in December.

The City is already beginning to research implementation strategies and funding mechanisms, so efforts to implement the plan will already be underway by December. So far the City has produced the aforementioned Recreation Needs Assessment Report, which includes conclusions and background data about recreation needs and opportunities in Xenia, based on input from: a survey that was sent via mail; a survey of Xenia school students; a brainstorming session with the Play Xenia Policy Committee; focus groups with recreation managers; inventory of existing facilities and programming and an analysis of market potential for recreation businesses and activities.

The report is available on the Play Xenia section of the City’s website and under the “Resources” tab on the PlaceSpeak virtual meeting site. Hard copies can be obtained by contacting the Planning and Zoning Department at 937-376-7285.

Highlights of the report include needs and opportunities related to the following: Public support and need for a community recreation center; continued and improved festivals; more teen-centered recreational programming; better promotion and coordination of athletic/non-athletic programming; more tourism-related development; commercial recreation venues; identification of partnerships to secure additional improvement and maintenance funds and affordable athletic venues.

The City’s parks were also an important topic. Among the options are continued maintenance/enhancement of Shawnee Park; further development of Sol Arnovitz, Sterling Green, Wright Cycle and West Side parks; expansion of Xenia Station green space and revitalization of Lexington/Ridgebury Parks.

Forschner said the virtual meeting site will remain active until at least the end of September. Once the virtual site is closed, information from it along with other sources will give the city some direction.

“This is just one source of public input,” Forschner said. “We had the surveys. We will have the public meetings. We will use this information but it’s not the only source.”

Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Xenia Daily Gazette. He can be reached at 937-502-4507.

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