Sue Binkert and Jim Dupree lead a visioning session at Ashford Park.
Sue Binkert and Jim Dupree lead a visioning session at Ashford Park.

“Tell us what you would like to see in this park, if you had the wish list of all wish lists,” Jim Dupree asked a Brookhaven resident one recent morning.

He was asking that question, among others, during a set of “visioning” meetings for Ashford, Georgian Hills and Skyland parks. This particular session, taking place in the Ashford Park Community Center, was intended to develop a vision for that small, but well-used park.

Gladys Jules, who brings her grandchild to the park, said she liked the idea of it being a park for children. “I do like the toys in this park. I like trees and I like a walking path. I would like to see it meet the needs of everybody in the community.”

She said she wouldn’t mind seeing a swing for older adults. Athletic leagues should play elsewhere, she said, but she’d like to see a designated area for dogs.

Resident John Pastore had a different vision. He said he’d like to see the park become more inviting to all ages, and suggested moving the toys from the center of the park.

PARC of Brookhaven, or the Parks and Recreation Coalition of Brookhaven, held the “visioning” sessions for the three neighborhood parks in District 2. The meetings were held with support by the city of Brookhaven and the Parks & Recreation Department, and were co-sponsored by District 2 Councilman John Park.

During the meetings, residents answered questions about what they like and don’t like about their neighborhood parks, as well as what they would like to see in Brookhaven parks overall.

Dupree led the meetings along with Sue Binkert. The pair said they were surprised by some of the suggestions they heard over the course of the sessions, held in late January and early February.

“At Skyland Park there’s a mound,” Binkert said. “We thought citizens would want to get rid of it, but they said, ‘No, don’t get rid of it, the kids love to play on it.’ This is a great grassroots way to find out what works for their parks now and what they’d like to see as far as improvements.”

Binkert and Dupree said that many of the citizens have suggested keeping the parks passive rather than bringing in money-making programming, and making basic upgrades and additions to benches, trash cans, dog stations and playground equipment.

“There have been some very good discussions; not everyone has the same opinion, but there’s been tremendous respect and feedback,” Dupree said.

Results of the meetings will be presented to the City Council. While the city approved a parks master plan last year, it doesn’t go into as much detail for the smaller parks, nor will it provide consultants for those parks. Binkert said these sessions are meant to be a continuation of the master plan.

During a discussion about Georgian Hills Park, Police Chief Gary Yandura suggested kiosks from which park users could call for emergency help.

“It would be nice to have a 911 pole in most of the parks,” he said. “You just press a button. It’s tamper proof and a blue light starts blinking at the top.”

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