By Abbie Newton
Mason Times staff writer
Mason hopes to improve its sports fields, entertainment venues and public art in the next five years, the zoning and development director said in a city council meeting in September.
Zoning and Development Director David Haywood said the ideas to add the new recreational resources are detailed in the city’s five-year recreation plan that was released in February.
Haywood and other officials sought input on the community-based plan to help guide the vision for recreation opportunities.
“It is important to have a goal and a vision so we know where we are going and what we are doing as a city. It spells out what community members want and what is feasible for the local government to provide.” –Zoning and Development Director David Haywood
After holding community visionary meetings and surveying high school students, six action items were developed.
The action items included upgrading the softball and baseball fields, enhancing public art, adding more soccer fields, building a movie theater, exploring the possibility of creating indoor recreational facilities and bringing a dog park to Mason.
Haywood said upgrading the sports fields was important because they have the potential to draw attention to be used as regional facilities.
Public art was also an area that Mason needs to improve on, Haywood said.
“Public art is becoming a robust discussion in the public,” Haywood said. “People want the city to be the leader in this area.”
Haywood said the city recently put a statue on Jefferson Street. The city wants it to mark the beginning of a running trail.
One action item that caused much conversation was the idea of building a movie theater in town.
Resident Teresa Bates said she wants the city to bring a theater to town.
“Mason needs a theater because right now the closest one is in Lansing or Jackson,” Bates said.
Bates also said she thinks the architecture and entertainment of the theater should match the historic look of downtown Mason.
“I think we should bring old, classic films to the theater rather than try to get all the new releases,” Bates said.
Another resident, Michelle Ireland, also liked the idea of a theater, but disagrees with Bates on the types of films that should be shown.
“We should make it a modern theater that brings new releases and popular films to our community,” Ireland said. “Kids and teenagers would be more likely to hang out in town if they had the option to see new movies.”
Whether it has new releases or classics, Haywood said the movie theater would be a good addition to Mason.
“Anything that promotes art and entertainment is a valuable asset to a community, big or small,” Haywood said.
Haywood said the city and community will work together to accomplish as many of these tasks as possible in the next five years. He also said everyone must be aware of the cost and resources that such improvements require.
“I envision a large recreation operation that continues to improve and maintain our facilities while adding value to our city,” Haywood said.
As Haywood begins to work on this plan, he is already thinking about the next five-year plan. He hopes to bring another park to Mason in the next 10 years.
“Our population grew by over 15 percent from 2000 to 2010, but our parks have not grown with our city,” Haywood said. “We hope to fix that in the future.”