Building better parks

Building better parks

St. Louis County Parks and Recreation look for public input in a new master plan to improve county parks

By Sara Hardin

St. Louis County Parks and Recreation has been getting the public involved in their latest Master Plan, a series of developments by the department that began last summer.

The first phase of the plan was completed after county-owned parks were surveyed for their conditions and resources by project team members. Public feedback surveys were then given to identify the needs of community members and park goers.

Public opinion has been a huge part of the Master Plan, so much so that the entire second phase of the project is dedicated to ensuring that the community’s recommendations are being heard through analysis of the survey results.

“We had three meetings across the county to solicit generalized idea and information,” said Gerry Biedenstein, Project Manager and Planner for the Master Plan. “The set of five we did in May was to start to bring conclusions and more information. We’re in the process right now of analyzing all of the feedback we’ve heard from the public during this process. In the next month and a half or so, we plan on having the conclusions of that analysis and scheduling a meeting to talk about everything and confirm what our priorities will be. Then we’ll move on from there.”

The county’s last Master Plan for its parks was completed over three decades ago, and the public has since developed new recommendations for how the parks can better serve its communities and its members.

“In any master planning process it is beneficial to get as much public participation as possible,” explained Scott Emmelkamp, Master Plan Project Manager. “For the St. Louis County Parks Master Plan we have witnessed great enthusiasm from the public by those who regularly use the county parks and/or feel that their recreation needs are not currently being met. The St. Louis County Parks Master Plan will be a road map that establishes direction for improvements not only to individual parks, but also to the park system. As a St. Louis County resident, I most look forward to seeing the improvements being made to the parks that we love.”

The third and fourth phases of the project will be area plan formulation and final plan development, respectively. The project team plans to hold additional meetings in September to hear more from the public and to present information about the plan’s progression.

Exact dates for the meetings will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, the project is working towards its goal with community members in mind every step of the way.

“You really try to understand what the market wants, what are new and different ideas out there,” said Biedenstein. “We’ve never been afraid of trying new things, but we also want to do the right thing.”

For more information about the Master Plan, visit

CUTLINE: Submitted photos

Cover-Parks1 Citizens talk with members of the St. Louis County Parks and Recreation about the new Master Plan for county parks.

Cover-Parks2 The North County Recreation Center is only one part of the St. Louis County Parks and Recreation new Master Plan for improving county parks.