The Mt. Juliet Commission recently approved its Systemwide Parks and Recreation Master Plan as the city looks to match its available green space with the needs and growth of the area.

The master plan approval is the city’s latest step in a multi-year effort to improve its parks system, which is underdeveloped, according to National Recreation and Park Association data included in the master plan prepared by consulting firm Kimley-Horn.

The plan highlights the city’s existing parks system and available programs and outlines short-term to long-term goals. The plan included surveyed results that identified several weaknesses with the parks and recreation system, including the need for increased program diversity, indoor recreation facilities, public communication and facility accessibility.

Several respondents identified the desire for a Charlie Daniels Park-style park replicated on the southern side of the city, as well as more indoor programming options such as an indoor pool or indoor playground to serve the community during winter months.

The plan also identified goals for each park in the city’s nearly 156-acre park system.

Short-term goals highlighted for the parks include: the addition of a GaGa ball court, Cedar Creek Greenway connection with trailhead near the community garden and connection of walking trail across the parking lot at Charlie Daniels Park; transitioning existing large multi-purpose field to three tennis courts, four pickle ball courts and additional parking, as well as improved lighting system at Sgt. Jerry Mundy Memorial Park; additional parking and dog park at Grace Church property; building restroom and parking lot at the Tomlinson Property, which the city purchased late last year; resurfaced bike track at Eagle Park; and the construction of parking lot, eight multi-purpose fields and connection to the city’s greenway system at Hamilton-Denson Park, to be located along West Division Street.

Highlighted mid-term to long-term goals include: an amphitheater and memorial plaza at the Grace Church property; expanded playground at Mundy Park; additional outdoor basketball courts at Charlie Daniels Park; and construction of recreation center with indoor pool at Ethan Page Park.

The plan also calls for the evaluation of relocating the Mt. Juliet League fields to the Tomlinson Property.

Short-term goals include hiring additional staff, the creation of a pickle ball league and tournament and having the commission fund grants for capital projects for youth sports leagues. Longterm goals include the purchase of land, specifically in south Mt. Juliet, and building a community recreation center with an indoor pool, similar to the Jimmy Floyd Family Center in Lebanon.

The National Recreation and Park Association data found Mt. Juliet to be below average when compared to national averages for comparable cities in several areas, including: baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools, tennis and pickle ball courts, playgrounds, soccer fields and softball fields. The study found the city to be at or above average in community gardens, dog parks, football fields, multi-purpose fields, skate parks and community centers.

The city has taken steps to improve its park system in recent years, including the purchase of the 57-acre Tomlinson Property last year.

“This one here is mostly just going to be used for walking trails. Something like if you’re in Gatlinburg or Radnor Lake,” Mt. Juliet Parks Director Rocky Lee said. “This is one of the few places in Mt. Juliet in the next 20 years you’re going to be able to find 60 acres of land where you can go and be secluded.”

The city also purchased the nearly 9-acre Hamilton-Denson Park property last year. The property is at the corner of Tate Late and West Division Street, and adjacent to the city’s recently-constructed greenway near Victory Baptist Church.

“We have been looking for land nearly three years now,” Lee said of Hamilton-Denson property last year. “These nearly nine acres we need for multi-purpose sports fields. We need them now.”

The commission also approved using around $3 million for park improvements earlier this year.