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Panel develops matrix for parks

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Park and Recreation Commission unanimously adopted the neighborhood park establishment and development criteria, weighting and ranking matrix, Wednesday.

The location of New Ulm’s next neighborhood park has been a subject of scrutiny in recent months. To fairly prioritize park development, the Park and Recreation Commission is creating a question matrix for determining which park comes next. Each question is weighted based on its importance.

This special meeting was scheduled to make formal adoption of the park matrix. Before approving the matrix, the commission reviewed the draft for any further changes.

The matrix divides the criteria into three parts: objective criteria, subjective criteria and land questions. The objective criteria are the largest section with nine questions. The questions included:

1. Is the general park location denoted in the New Ulm comprehensive plan?

2. Number of household units existing in the area

3. Number of future household units estimated to be added in the area

4. Distance from center of area to nearest developed park

5. The elevation difference from center of area to nearest developed park

6. Safety level to walk or bicycle from center of area to nearest developed park

7. Proximity to utilities (water, sewer, electricity, etc)

8. Is there private funding or donations available for park development?

9. Health factors

The commission weighted question six highest, viewing safety as the most important issue in the objective questions. Question two, the number of household units in the area, was weighted second highest.

The main question under land questions was whether the city owns appropriate land in the area. This question was the highest weighted question. A series of other questions applied if no land was owned by the city in the area.

With the matrix completed and adopted, staff will fill in the questions that can be answered with available data. The commissioners will receive this information in a packet before the next regular meeting. During the next meeting, the commissioners could add or make changes to the findings. Under subjective criteria, commissioners can score parks based on other circumstances.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the commissioners would be able to review staff findings. He said they might have a different opinion on safety than staff.

The matrix adopted will be used to score and rank the potential park sites in New Ulm during the next regular commission meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, March 8, in City Hall.

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