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Athens City Council eyes grant money for long-term parks, recreation plan

Though past long-term city council initiatives have produced community centers and youth soccer fields in Athens, the latest aims to bring in grant money rather than create new infrastructure.

Before a new plan is developed, city officials and Athens’ Arts, Parks and Recreation department are creating a survey that will study which facilities, parks or fields citizens use most frequently, said Rich Campitelli, director of Arts, Parks and Recreation.

Starting the surveying process early will give the plan more leverage when the time comes to apply for grants, City Planner Paul Logue said. In the past, grant money has been used to fund long-range plans and projects through Arts, Parks and Recreation, he added.

Logue is working alongside Campitelli to create the survey and said it will be available to the public by the beginning of October.

After the data is collected, Athens officials and politically engaged residents will be interviewed, and public meetings will be held to address pertinent questions raised by the survey.

“It is our job here at Arts, Parks and Rec to improve the quality of life for the people of Athens,” Campitelli said. “By figuring out what residents want through this survey, we can do that.”

The most recent long-range plan, which expires at the end of this year, brought improvements to the ArtsWest programs and resulted in new soccer fields, Campitelli said, adding that the Athens Community Center was built through a long-range plan as well.

“We have no expectation that the funding for this exists through the city,”

Logue said.

Though the funding might not come from the city, Campitelli said Athens residents are vocal about making sure city officials know about their desires for the city.

“I have always supported Arts, Parks and Rec. and it is my hope to work collaboratively with our executive branch on future implementation for them,” Kent Butler, D-1st Ward, said.

Logue and Campitelli said they plan to present their plan to City Council in March or April of 2012 and have it finalized by next summer.

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