Clevelanders were invited to share their opinions during the summer of 2023 in a variety of ways which are highlighted below. The variety of engagement formats spanned geographic, language, and other accessibility barriers to capture as great a diversity of voices as possible, particularly from those traditionally disengaged from the planning process.
In July of 2023, over 150 participants attended four public open houses–at Gunning Park, Zelma Watson George, and Thurgood Marshall Neighborhood Resource and Recreation Centers and at the South Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. The open houses took place in different neighborhoods throughout the city and were scheduled at varying times throughout the day allowing residents to attend the open house that fit best within their schedule.
At the open houses, a series of boards in English and Spanish were set up for participants to explore at their own pace. Informational boards provided maps and statistics about the parks and recreation system and the planning process. At input boards, participants voted for their preferred choices and wrote in their own ideas. City staff and members of the planning team provided clarifications, answered questions, and listened to participants’ concerns and ideas–also in both English and Spanish. Youth-tailored activities engaged the city’s youngest parks and recreation users. Light meals from local establishments were provided. Outreach in advance of meetings included a press release, posters distributed to neighborhood resource and recreation centers, flyers distributed in neighborhoods around the open houses, emails, and social media announcements.
Pop-Ups at Existing Community Events
Tables were set up at Mohican Park during a senior walk hosted by the Department of Aging and at a Trust for Public Land event in midtown. These events provided spontaneous opportunities for gathering feedback and to inform the community about the plan.
There are approximately 67,000 school-aged children in Cleveland. To encourage participation from the next generation of park and recreation stewards, teens at Camp Forbes participated in workshops during their summer camp sessions, and students at Lincoln-West High School and at Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Resource and Recreation Center participated in workshops to prototype their ideal park and recreation facilities and identify what could be improved.
Meetings with Local Neighborhood Groups and Organizations
Over the month of August 2023, neighborhood conversation kits were distributed to 11 neighborhood groups to host their own discussions about parks and recreation. Each group used the kit to host its own meeting and submitted photo, video, and written documentation of the meeting. Small grants were provided to cover refreshments or other resources for participants. The kits were also made available to all City Council members.
Dear Cleveland Parks and Recreation,
City and Partner Organization Interviews
Small group interviews provided an opportunity to hear from advocacy organizations, user groups, and city departments about the way they use or interact with parks and recreation in Cleveland and the needs they have for parks and recreation moving forward. These interviews highlighted departmental perspectives, challenges working within existing government structures, and opportunities to leverage Clevelanders’ passion for parks.