City of Palm Coast and Flagler County's Parks & Recreation Master Plan Receives Support from National Parks Service and NEFRC
Wednesday November, 08 2023
The City of Palm Coast, Flagler County, and the Tourism Development Office (TDO) are excited to announce a significant milestone in the countywide Parks & Recreation Master Plan project. The Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC), in partnership with the National Park Service, chose to review projects in Flagler County through its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program.
The City of Palm Coast, Flagler County, and the Tourism Development Office (TDO) are excited to announce a significant milestone in the countywide Parks & Recreation Master Plan project. The Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC), in partnership with the National Park Service, chose to review projects in Flagler County through its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program, ushering in invaluable technical support to bolster its development and implementation. This initiative promises to elevate parks and recreational offerings across the Palm Coast and Flagler County.
The project took shape following a visionary collaboration between Palm Coast City Council and the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners, driven by the shared goal of enhancing and improving the county's parks and trail systems. To bring this vision to life, consultant BerryDunn was hired to support the project, embarking on an extensive community engagement effort. This comprehensive process encompassed statistically valid mailed surveys, open link surveys, focus groups, leadership interviews, and the use of an interactive social engagement website. The heart of the community's input was trail connectivity, driving dedicated discussions and becoming a central focus of the project.
In response to the community's voice during this process, the project has immediately incorporated key recommendations derived from the input of local residents:
- Enhancing Trailheads: Aiming to make trail entry points more accessible and inviting.
- Uniform Signage: Implementing consistent wayfinding signage across parks and trails for improved navigation.
- Closing Trail Gaps and Improving Wayfinding: Ensuring that missing trail sections are completed, and navigation support is enhanced.
- Shade Improvements: Identifying areas in parks and along trails where shade structures are needed, prioritizing safety and comfort.
What sets this project apart is the dynamic support it receives from multiple quarters. Flagler County Public Transportation is contributing to the endeavor by providing a shuttle service, ensuring efficient transportation for the project team. Additionally, the Palm Coast Bicycle Trail Shop is playing a vital role by providing bicycles to expedite the exploration of the trail network. This combined effort not only accelerates progress but also exemplifies the commitment to making this initiative a resounding success.
The residents of Palm Coast and Flagler County rely on their trail system for transportation, physical fitness, and an immersive connection with nature. This joint effort underscores the commitment to continually invest in this vital recreational resource to ensure the highest quality and experience.
On November 6, representatives from the National Park Service visited with staff members and toured Palm Coast and Flagler County to evaluate these initiatives and provide insight and technical assistance on how to achieve the projects’ objectives. This visit marks a pivotal step in implementing the master plan, demonstrating the dedication of all involved parties to enhancing local parks and recreational amenities.
First, the County and TDO were able to showcase their future Eco-Discovery Center. The new 10,000 sq. ft. center will be located on a 23-acre county-owned parcel on SR100, which is on the Heritage Crossroads Byway and approximately 1 mile east of I-95 and 3 miles west of A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway in Flagler Beach. This location is also within walking distance of the Florida Department of Transportation’s newly constructed $12 million pedestrian bridge and adjacent to the future Bulow Creek Headwaters Regional Park. The pedestrian bridge serves as a gateway for the already established 130+ miles of trails in Flagler County. The bridge connects to the Lehigh Greenway Trail, which will eventually connect to the Bulow Trail.
Then the team embarked on a bicycle tour, starting at Linear Park and traversing St. Joe Walkway, connecting to the Intracoastal Waterway Trail inside Waterfront Park. Stops included the Children's Memorial Garden and the new kayak launch, with an exit from Waterfront Park to Colbert, leading to Graham Swamp Trail. The tour also featured a stop at a site previously used for tree planting and ecological restoration by the City of Palm Coast before returning to Linear Park.
Following their regional visits, the National Park Service and NEFRC will identify common goals and connections between projects to foster collaboration. The technical assistance will be vital to the entire Flagler County trail system comprehensively as it will assist the promotion of the trails countywide. The team will also assist with the development of cohesive signage across the county, prioritizing areas of the trail system, providing examples of how to make the trail brochures more interactive and user-friendly, and recommending phases to budget effectively. Additionally, the City of Palm Coast and Flagler County will collaborate with NEFRC to explore potential funding sources to realize the ambitious goals set forth in the Parks & Recreation Master Plan.
"The partnership between the City of Palm Coast, Flagler County, and the TDO, with the support of the National Park Service and NEFRC, is a shining example of our dedication to enhancing the quality of life for our residents and visitors," said Denise Bevan, City Manager for the City of Palm Coast. “We look forward to the positive changes that will result from this collaboration.”
The involvement of the National Park Service and NEFRC in this project reaffirms their commitment to fostering regional development and enhancing the well-being of Northeast Florida's communities. By selecting the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, they play a pivotal role in creating a more vibrant and connected Flagler County.
For more information about the RTCA program, please visit the National Park Service website.
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Brittany KershawDirector of Communications & Marketing