The U.S. National Park Service has selected Atlantic Beach and 11 other communities as partners in its Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program for fiscal year 2019.
The National Park Service (NPS) will help the City of Atlantic Beach develop a plan to enhance municipal-owned green spaces and identify other opportunities to preserve and protect areas for recreation and conservation.
In January, the Atlantic Beach City Commission identified developing a parks master plan -- a quality of life and environmental initiative to enhance recreation, conservation and community health opportunities – as being among its top priorities.
Shane Corbin, Atlantic Beach’s planning and community development director, said the new master plan “will guide future development of our parks for the next generation.”
“The NPS will bring outside expertise to our team, along with examples of what other communities have done throughout the country,” he said. “This should be a fun and rewarding project.”
The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program works with community groups, nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and local, state, and federal government agencies to achieve locally defined goals for natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation. Atlantic Beach is the only Florida community to be selected to participate in the RTCA program.
The intended benefits of the parks master plan are to create a focused path for implementing projects that will increase access to open spaces and recreational opportunities; create and connect safe pedestrian and bike paths; preserve natural areas; and invest in the maintenance and development of natural areas a key component to the city’s identity.
Corbin said public participation will be an integral component of the master plan’s development and implementation.
“Our residents are very engaged in environmental issues and promoting the natural environment,” he said. “It will be very beneficial to have NPS assistance in moving through those discussions and gaining consensus.”
Atlantic Beach has plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities, including salt marshes, neighborhood parks, and the beach. In advance of the NPS’ participation, City staff is completing an asset-mapping and data-collection phase of the parks master plan. Also, the city’s grants consultant has conducted a needs assessment that may be included in the master plan.
The final, comprehensive master plan will identify recommendations for improvements to existing park space and connectivity across sites, along with potential new project sites. A proposed project 5- to 10-year project timeline, along with potential funding sources, also will be included in the plan.
The other 2019 NPS RTCA program projects are: (Alabama) Mobile County Blueways, City of Fairhope Master Plan Concepts, and Groundwork Mobile; (Louisiana) Smith-Wilson Memorial Park Master Plan, Sankofa Wetland Park & Nature Trail Master Plan, and Acadiana Nature Station Strategic Plan; (South Carolina) Charleston Paddle Share Program, Catawba Indian Nation Recreational Master Plan, and Ashley River Recreation and Conservation Master Plan; and (Tennessee) Sequatchie River Water Trail and Northeast Tennessee Outdoor Recreation Plan.
For information about the City of Atlantic Beach parks master plan, contact Corbin at email@example.com or (904) 247-5817.
For more information about the RTCA program, visit www.nps.gov/rtca.