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Master Plan: Executive Summary

The following Master Plan for Parks, Trails and Open Space is an outgrowth of Benton County's recently completed 1999 Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan called for creating a blueprint for open space planning a top priority of the County and its residents. The over-arching concerns of the public are reflected in the General Goals, Land Use Goals, Public Facilities Goals, and Environmental Goals of the 1999 Comprehensive Plan, with specific attention directed toward the County's respectful and orderly growth while protecting natural areas, agricultural interests, and private property rights. It is important to note that this Master Plan for Parks, Trails and Open Space (Master Plan) accomplishes a portion of the intent of the 1999 Comprehensive Plan by offering a specific direction for the County to take in planning for the future. However, and almost equally important, is to clearly state that this Master Plan will provide recommendations for open space, parks and trails, but stops short of providing the detailed design information necessary for implementation. Other clarifications include:

  • The plan is built upon the input of residents and concerned citizens. These people spent time together discussing and identifying the needs of a growing county while imagining a place where park, trails and natural areas could co-exist with urban development and agriculture. In this, the Master Plan is a great success. On the other hand, the plan is not meant to "target" specific properties and landowners for future acquisition or other action by the County or other governmental bodies (although a few properties have been clearly identified as possibilities – either by the current landowner, or by long-standing public request). It is truly an inventory of citizen interest that, with recommendations from the consultant, points the way to where the County should focus its plans to development areas for parks, trails and natural areas projects.
  • The plan also identifies and prioritizes existing parks, trails and natural resource areas within the county that have a high potential for public use and enjoyment. General concept plans serve as a springboard for creative thinking. Presenting these concepts does not mean that existing parks will be developed according to the plans presented, or even changed at all. Those decisions are to be made at a later date and would certainly involve and require significant public input and comment.
  • Finally, some areas within the County are such a high resource value that they should simply be preserved and passively enjoyed. The planning team recognizes the importance of these areas and discusses their desires for these areas in the minutes and meeting proceedings included in the Appendix.

It is the planning team's sincere hope that this Master Plan for Parks, Trails and Open Space will serve as a first step to identify, preserve, enhance and develop the parks, trails and natural areas of the county for the enjoyment of future generations.