University of Wisconsin-Madison student Michael Draper has been working on a student project to create a five-year plan for the city’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department over the past few months.

He’s been meeting with the city’s Parks and Recreation Board — a citizen advisory board which helps guide the department’s activities — regularly.

Draper presented the board with some of his findings Tuesday. Among recommendations for improving the parks were:

• Increasing maintenance, grooming and repair work in parks and in parks facilities.

• Advocate for greater accessibility for pedestrians with more sidewalks and bike lanes that lead to and from parks.

• Adopting an online registration system for residents to sign up for recreation activities and reserve facilities. Many communities the size of Portage have them, Draper said.

• Continuing to add pedestrian trails and improve location and educational signage on them.

• Considering fitness zones to cater to the people in their 20s and 30s who are interested in ways to stay fit outdoors.

Draper said that his recommendations were made without budgeting in mind, but told board members the recommendations could be carried out if they became relevant.

“These are just some ideas you can play around with,” Draper told board members.

Board member Kirk Konkel said that the research should help the board into the future, especially during its review of upcoming budgets.

Draper said that the project was “fun to do” and a great “learning experience.”

Draper will graduate this Saturday, but offered to continue to meet with board members to fine-tune his findings.

No Thompson Beach

The parks and recreation board did not endorse a proposal to rename Silver Lake Beach after a fallen soldier from Portage.

Board members said the request to rename the park after Sgt. Daniel J. Thompson of Portage did not fit within a newly adopted naming policy for city facilities.

Instead, the board encouraged proponents to work with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post to find a way to honor Thompson.

Thompson, 24, died on Feb. 24, 2009, when an improvised explosive device detonated in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

In other business:

• Officials said that the Rusch pool will reopen to the public Monday, following the completion of scheduled maintenance.

• The local Boy Scout troop is working on finding a new location to build a cabin in the community. The troop’s old cabin was destroyed in a fire.

  • Editor, Portage Daily Register

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