Currently, Marshalltown has 22 different parks, some of which are ponds with walking trails, while others are only barely being maintained by the city. This number includes the city's skate and softball parks.
Marshalltown has been operating based on the "Parks and Rec Master Plan" created in 2018. One of its main goals was to have at least one park within walking distance (half a mile at most) for every resident, which is considered important due to most parks not having much vehicle parking space. Parks & Rec is currently considering adding another park to the south side of the city, but is also open to finding a new focus if the council doesn't approve the idea.
Future plans for Marshalltown's parks include developments at Peterson Park and Kiwanis in 2023, and the replacement of bathrooms at Timber Creek in 2024, as well as some minor renovations at Optimist Park, including the additions of more soccer goals, the replacing of grills, power-washing and restaining the shelter area.
Further in the future, Parks & Rec hopes to work on Jaycee Park and Arnold Park, with considered improvements including new play structures, better lighting and increased handicap accessibility. Hubbard also suggested new focuses for his department in the future to both increase cost-effectiveness and benefit the community.
"I think we have a good number [of parks]," Hubbard said at the meeting. "I think that they're not in the locations I would like them to be. But you're not going to move some to different ones. I think the south side is definitely lacking in parks. I think you're going to see some growth happening out there. But I think also the way that we're maintaining them, obviously, we don't have enough staff to maintain all 22 of them, which is why we're contracting out a lot of that work."
Hubbard continued to address the issue of who is maintaining the parks and expressed optimism about the new hires.
"I think with the staff we have now -- we've had some old-school staff who have been doing it a certain way for 20 years -- longer than I've been here," he said. "And we now have a lot of new, fresh staff who are excited about taking on different things. We have some new park staff. We're excited about doing that; I think they're also excited. We have three of our four park staff who are licensed weed sprayers. So we can do certain things that we haven't been able to do in the past."