SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council accepted the final draft of an update to the city’s Parks, Facilities and Open Spaces Master Plan this week, a document designed to guide the maintenance and development of the city’s parks and recreation system. The city hired consultants from Peaks and Plains Design and Arizona-based PROS Consulting to update its plan based on both community perspectives and industry best practices.

The consultants collected community feedback through both statistically-valid surveys and focus group sessions. Mike Svetz, a principal with PROS, said city residents were generally satisfied with the parks system in its current state and want to see the city improve on what is already working.

Based on the city’s expected population growth, though, Svetz said the city will have to grow its parks and recreation opportunities to maintain its current level of service.

City Administrator Mark Collins said the process of updating the plan has already influenced the city’s spending. Sheridan’s fiscal year 2020 budget includes capital investment funding for some of the priorities that emerged through draft versions of the plan. The city budgeted $721,000 for pathway expansions, $714,000 for renovations to Black Tooth Park and $127,000 to improve and expand access to pickleball courts.

The consultants’ survey also identified renovating Kendrick Pool as a major public priority, with 71% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing that the pool should be improved. The city included $120,000 in its fiscal year 2020 budget for the design and engineering of pool renovations, Collins said, and is currently soliciting bids for the project.

The survey also showed that Sheridan’s pathway system was one of the most popular pieces of the parks system and also one of citizens’ top expansion priorities, which Collins said is reflected in the fiscal year 2020 budget.

In addition to identifying areas where the city can expand, the plan also sought to help the city plan for the ongoing maintenance of its parks system, Svetz said. By staying on top of maintenance needs, he said, the city can save money in the long run; timely small repairs can prevent costly major repairs and replacements.

“By considering the total cost of ownership, you can create a sustainable parks and recreation system that you don’t overbuild,” Svetz said.

The city has a lot of park land relative to its population, Svetz said, but it needs more staff to maintain it — the plan recommends the city hires between three and four full-time park maintenance employees within the next three years.

When considering growing the parks system, the plan prompts the city to consider the “total cost of ownership,” which includes the initial capital costs, operations and maintenance costs and life-cycle replacement costs.

Council President Clint Beaver said that the plan had an extremely broad scope and recommended council accept the document — which means affirming the consultants have completed the work they were contracted to do and authorizing their payment — but council will have to spend the coming months analyzing the document and establishing actionable priorities.