Public invited to make voice heard

By Keith Strange

May 13, 2014

DOBSON — Officials with Surry County Parks and Recreation are seeking public input on what the county’s recreational opportunities should look like over the next decade.

Four public meetings have been scheduled over the next month to gather public comment that will be compiled into a 10-year comprehensive master plan that will be presented to the county board of commissioners for approval, according to Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White.

“The meetings are a chance to get input from county residents for our master plan document that will update the one we’re using now,” White said, noting that the department’s existing master plan will end on Dec. 20, 2015.

The first meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Human Services Building in Mount Airy on Thursday.

Subsequent meetings will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., on May 22 at Dobson Town Hall, on May 29 at the Pilot Center in Pilot Mountain and on June 12 at the Elkin Center in Elkin.

White noted that the meetings are going to be “floating” events.

“The public can drop by at any time during the meetings to offer up their suggestions about the recreational needs in Surry County,” he said. “There will be a survey available, and we’ll be taking public comment as well.”

For White, the plan serves a a guideline for how his department will move forward over the next 10 years.

“This plan is a detailed summary of our current facilities and future needs in the county,” he said. “It includes things that range from capital improvement needs to the need for additional public access to rivers in the county. This document covers a broad range of issues that affect the county. It’s very detailed, and we also take a strong look at census data and then take our current facilities and put them into a spreadsheet and compare them to recreational standards nationally.”

In addition to acting as a road map for future plans, White said the master plan can be used to help pay for projects.

“It also helps us with making funding resources available,” he said. “Things like grants and loans often require we have a master plan in place to show where projects fit into future plans for the county.

“It also allows us to make future decisions with concrete data to back up those decisions and prevents us from spending taxpayer money without public input to know where that money is going and how it will be used,” White added.

White said he has no idea what the public will request.

“I’m keeping my mind open,” he said with a laugh. “But at least this will give us a solid look at where the interest lies in the county while allowing us to compare what we have to national interests and national standards.

“A lot of times a project will pop up and when questions arise about whether to pursue it, I can go back to the master plan and see whether it’s covered in those recommendations,” he added.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.