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Parks & Rec tackles Vision 2020 plan

After a hiatus, Dickinson Parks & Rec is returning to its Vision 2020 plan, which includes staff restructuring and working with a Future First Committee to look at new policies. A priority for the department is adopting a medical marijuana policy. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson Parks & Recreation is returning to its Vision 2020 plan.

The Future First Committee has resumed meetings to consider overlooked areas that are not addressed by the department's policy.

These issues include drone usage, services animals, transgender issues, city recycling, and medical marijuana.

Work on the plan was delayed several months due to the May primary election and the busy summer parks season.

"I think we were a little overambitious, thinking we could accomplish as much in the summer as we thought, because summer is our busiest time," James Kramer, parks director, said.

A first priority under the plan was restructuring staff.

"We now have our assistant directors in the departments and brought in a new (director of building and grounds)," Kramer said. "From there, I think it's going to be a lot easier to attack some of these different components because now those guys are going to be really involved in that."

Parks & Rec will next focus on working more closely with user-groups, which are responsible for youth sports programs, including baseball, flag football, swimming and hockey.

"We're going to just start reshaping how we work together, and find out what their future is, what their numbers are, how close are they to maxing out where they're going to be turning kids away, which we don't want," Kramer said.

Kramer is also considering hosting discussions with the community in winter.

"We decided we're going into inviting just general public users, people who use our trails and parks, who participate in adult sports, and try to find a way to get feedback," he said.

Going into spring, Parks & Rec will look more at its policies and procedures.

A priority for the department is addressing medical marijuana usage.

"When we started this we thought we were ahead of it and we were going to try to get out in front. Obviously, that's passed and we're already behind," Kramer said. "By the end of this year, you'll see a new policy in our manual about medical marijuana, and hopefully by then we'll know what recreational marijuana does."

Park board members will be presented with a completed policy regarding services animals at their Oct. 26 meeting.

Scott Kovash, park board president, said he fully supports the Vision 2020 effort.

"As a parks and rec department we're growing, and in order to become more professional we need to step up and make our department more efficient, and this is part of it," he said.

Much has changed over 15 years, Kramer said.

Youth sports were not as prominent, and more adults participated in adult softball, volleyball and golf programs.

"In those activities, we were seeing record numbers. Now, you really see the flip," he said. "You see the youth sports just skyrocketing and starting at younger ages and more kids playing. What that does is, it makes mom and dad do less for themselves."

He added, "There's all sorts of new trends and new cycles, and you just learn as you go."

Kramer said rekindling the effort has been re-energizing.

"When you've been at a place for 27 years, a lot has changed, and sometimes we get stuck in trudging forward the way we always have," he said. "It gives you a new energy and a little excitement when you start to make changes and get the public involved to hear what they have to say."

The community will see "noticeable differences," Kramer said, once the plan is completed.