Members of the Van Buren City Council will be asked at their Feb. 23 meeting to consider a comprehensive parks and recreation plan.

The detailed draft, in the works for almost a year, contains no funding mechanism for the $11.5 million wish list complied after a series of public input sessions.

"It’s been a long process to get this to where we are today," said Michael Brammer, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

He said public support shows that citizens are willing to help and interested in the city’s park system.

"It’s exciting because we see people planning for the future instead of looking back. We’re getting focused and getting things coordinated," Brammer said.

City Planner Joe Hurst said more than 85 percent of those responding during a four-month survey period want an aquatics center. He said 55 percent want walking, hiking and running trails, followed closely by 48 percent wanting biking trails.

"The biggest problem identified in the survey seems to be the condition of existing parks and the lack of contemporary equipment, facilities and programs," Hurst said.

The parks and recreation plans to be presented to the council suggests immediate needs as well as short-term and long-term goals.

Immediate needs call for the redevelopment of Veterans Memorial Park in downtown, incorporating a farmers’ marker, outdoor stage, splash park and playground and updating and expanding playground equipment at Dr. Louis Peer Memorial City Park.

Also included would be the start of construction at Colley Park and Legacy Park and developing a bicycle and pedestrian master plan to guide the development of trails, greenways, sidewalks and on-street bikeways.

Short-term plan (3-5 years) would be continued development at Colley Park, 1.5 miles of mountain bike trails at Legacy Park, trails in Lee Creek and Meyer parks and dog park in Lee Creek Park.

The long-term plan (6-10 years) would be to complete each park’s concept plan, seek additional opportunities to incorporate special use features into existing parks and continue to develop trails, greenways, sidewalks and one-street bikeways.

Pending approval of the city council, Hurst said the city will pursue grants and other funding avenues in order to get work started.

Brammer said subcommittees or steering committees could be formed to determine the needs and feasibility of each of the different parks. The panels would be made up of city officials and the general public.

The parks and recreation committee has been working with Bentonville-based contractors CEI Engineering and Alta Planning and Design on the parks master plan. In April, the City Council approved a $50,000 contract to allow CEI to work with the city to provide a professional planning and landscape architecture service for the city’s first comprehensive parks plan.