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Dickinson ordinances to get update; city may see more parks and trails

John How of Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson speaks during a meeting at the West River Community Center Wednesday.

Dickinson city officials met Wednesday with parks and recreation officials in an effort to create a more organized park system, which could include larger parks and trails.

The potential changes are part of "Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future," a new comprehensive and transportation plan. It is being organized by city entities along with Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, a planning and engineering firm.

City Planner Ed Courton said subdivision and park ordinance changes could take effect by the end of February.

"People want to have a park they can walk to from their house," said John How of KL&J.

Courton wants to require developers of subdivisions to have open space or small parks in their plans in addition to existing park requirements. Developers must give Dickinson Parks and Recreation a portion of land in their housing development or cash in lieu of.

Dickinson Park Board member Carol Herauf said small parks in the city aren't used as much as larger parks.

Officials discussed keeping away from constructing "pocket parks," or small parks with little features. They may move toward more themed or destination parks, such as a volleyball or soccer park, or a large area with many uses.

"I would like to factor in, as new developments come in, they essentially provide the pocket park, or a smaller open space area to accommodate people within that development and they maintain that themselves," Courton said.

It would make developments more marketable and competitive, he added.

"A third option for them is to maintain it and not dedicate the land to us, but work with us," Herauf said. "That would be a benefit for us, too."

James Kramer, director of parks and recreation, said if they take cash in lieu of land, the developer could also be required to factor in a small park or open space.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel suggested requiring commercial or industrial developers to donate a percentage of cash for park development, since existing ordinances don't require them to do so.

More parks will need to be added as the city grows north, Kramer said.

"I think there is a need to incorporate some destination parks north of I-94," he said.

Large pieces of land need to be acquired for themed parks, he added.

"We're always looking for connectivity," said Brett Gurholt of KL&J. "One of the real strong things that we're seeing is the Heart River corridor just as the tool, as a spine to start connecting future green spaces off of that."