MARINETTE - The City of Marinette's Outdoor Recreation Planning Ad Hoc Committee met for a final time Monday evening to go over a list of recommendations pertaining to improving and expanding upon the city's parks and outdoor recreation offerings.

Elizabeth Runge, a consultant with Ayres Associates, provided the committee with a comprehensive overview of the finding that came of a two-year study of the city's park system and its outdoor recreation opportunities. Runge's report pointed out areas in which the city needed to work to maintain its existing facilities and provide additional rec. opportunities moving forward.

"The purpose of the comprehensive outdoor recreation plan is to guide the city in the development of its parks - and just overall maintenance approach to maintaining those parks," Runge said.

She went on to explain that residents' quality of life, as well as decisions made by businesses that may be considering relocating to cities like Marinette, are often linked to the availability of parks and the recreational opportunities those parks provide.

Along the same lines, Runge pointed out the importance of matters such as effective signage, meeting ADA requirements and a city's ability to take advantage of its natural resources as important factors weighed by granting agencies when it comes time to decide whether to award financial assistance to improve municipal park and recreation facilities.

Marinette City Engineer Brian Miller agreed.

"If there are grant opportunities, the granting agencies look to see if we have an outdoor rec. plan formalized and approved by the common council, and if so, that helps our grant application," he explained. "That helps to justify the need for financial assistance."

But besides the plan's impact on external funding, Miller also explained the plan will allow the city to take a proactive, in-house-approach to maintaining and improving outdoor recreation.

"We need a comprehensive plan that not only identifies the need but also identifies the cost, so that we can plan for that and budget for it and then eventually make the necessary improvements to our park system and upgrade our playground equipment," he said.

According to Miller, the plan now is to bring the city's comprehensive outdoor recreation plan before the council.

"The next step is for the council to adopt the plan, and once the plan is adopted, that becomes the roadmap for the city to follow as it relates to outdoor recreation in Marinette," he said, adding the goal is to have it before the council at the April 15 meeting.