A deer is seen walking in the Animas River next to a flock of geese on Wednesday near Berg Park in Farmington.
A deer is seen walking in the Animas River next to a flock of geese on Wednesday near Berg Park in Farmington. (Megan Farmer / The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — Surveys were mailed on Wednesday to a sampling of 4,000 residents in Farmington seeking input for the city's first Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Master Plan, a document that could reshape the city, one official said.

"This allows everybody to weigh in, and we get to decide what's important to the community," said Cory Styron, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs director.

The last plan that guided the community's priorities was the city-wide comprehensive plan, completed in 2001. But the master plan will identify the community's five- to 15-year priorities specific to the parks and recreation department, Styron said. And he encourages residents to share in the survey and online what they want changed in their city.

Farmington resident Michael Darmody said he wants an arts center. Darmody, an artist who teaches at San Juan College, said the city's arts community is large. He said Farmington has many Hispanic folk artists and many more Native American artists, and there are also arts that young people enjoy, such as movies, dance, theater and music.

But without a hub -- an art center -- they are unseen, he said.

"The awareness won't be there until and unless this happens," he said.

Most visiting Farmington are only passing through to a nearby attraction, he said. Art could anchor them, and the art center would be the "hub on the wheel" of the artist community, Darmody said.

"It seems the possibility is tantalizingly within reach, but it could still elude our grasp," he said.

The art center is one of the many suggestions the parks and recreation department has gotten since the first of its public meetings, Styron said.

Residents suggested the city improve and promote river fronts by encouraging rafting, fishing or canoeing, he said. Others want the city to build trails linking downtown to the Animas River. And some have pushed for upgrading the Farmington Recreation Center and allowing non-motorized boating on Farmington Lake.

Sandy Carson, left, and Nathan Hill walk along Animas River on Wednesday near Berg Park in Farmington.
Sandy Carson, left, and Nathan Hill walk along Animas River on Wednesday near Berg Park in Farmington. (Megan Farmer / The Daily Times)

Styron said the survey results will refine residents' suggestions.

"And, of course, the question that keeps coming up is, 'What is the one big thing for Farmington?'" Styron said.

Another goal is to identify and create Farmington's brand, he said. When people visit the city, there needs to be a single attraction they intend to visit or experience before they leave, he said. But, right now, he said, there isn't.

"This is a huge time for the community to hear from all," he said.

In October, the city hosted five public meetings and 10 focus groups, said Jody Carman, parks and recreation marketing director. She said 74 people attended the public meetings, and 106 attended the focus groups.

Also, a consulting firm the city hired has built an interactive website that allows users to submit opinions on how the parks and recreation department should focus resources to improve the community.

The city paid $94,998 to the consulting firm, GreenPlay, LLC., to assess the city's 72 parks, build the website for public comment of the plan, design and mail the survey, analyze the results and recommend steps to achieving the established goals, Styron said.

Styron said one of the ways the department could fund those goals is from a department account that collects 5 percent of the city's gross receipts taxes. The account is projected to contain $2.4 million by the end of fiscal year 2014, Administrative Services Director Andy Mason said.

The consulting firm will return to the city in March after all the surveys have been collected and analyzed, and it will give its interpretation of the data in a public meeting, Styron said. He said the meeting will be an opportunity for the community to correct the plan's proposed direction if residents disagree.

The department needs at least 400 surveys returned to be confident the results represent all Farmington residents, Styron said. Residents have up to two weeks to complete the six-page survey, he said.

"We just want to make sure everybody's looking for it (the surveys) and that they send it back in a timely manner," he said.

MORE INFORMATION To comment on the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department's Master Plan, go to prcaplan4life.mindmixer.com/. Users will be asked to register.

For more information on the master plan, email Jody Carman at jcarman@fmtn.org.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.