Feature Article - June 2008
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COMMUNITY TRENDS

Town and Country


Many amenities are far more likely to be found in urban areas, while others are more likely to be found in rural areas. Suburban facilities fall in the middle, offering the best of both worlds. In some areas, they are more similar to their urban counterparts, while in others they are more similar to rural offerings—in the end, that means suburban facilities seem to offer a wider range of amenities for their patrons' use. Most of the differences in types of amenities included in facilities follow what the public likely would expect, with urban facilities more likely to include things like dog parks, skateparks, splash play and synthetic turf—all amenities that seem to go hand-in-hand with a higher population density where people have less access to open space—while rural facilities are more likely to include campgrounds and skiing.

Urban areas are nearly twice as likely to include a skatepark than rural areas. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of urban respondents said they had a skatepark, compared to just 12.7 percent of rural respondents. Disc golf is also far more common in urban areas, where 17.7 percent said they included a disc golf course, compared to just 11 percent of rural areas. Likewise, dog parks are far more common in urban settings and suburban areas, where 16.9 percent and 11.9 percent of respective respondents included such a facility, than in rural areas, where just 4.5 percent included a dog park.

Splash play is also more likely to be found in urban facilities. Some 16 percent of urban respondents said they had a splash park, compared to just 6.5 percent of rural respondents, and more urban respondents were planning to add more splash play areas within the next few years.

The same goes for synthetic turf playing fields. More than 12 percent of urban respondents said they had synthetic turf, compared to just over 5 percent of rural respondents, and urban respondents were more likely to be planning to add synthetic turf as well.

Among rural respondents, 23.4 percent said their facility included a campground, compared to just 10.5 percent of urban facilities. They also are far more likely to be planning to add campgrounds. Skiing is also more common in rural areas, where 8.4 percent said they included ski trails, compared to urban and suburban areas, where less than 3 percent of respondents included skiing.

Rural respondents were more likely than others to be planning to add a challenge course. Nearly 10 percent of rural respondents said they had such plans over the next three years.

Programs

While suburban respondents were more likely to include most types of programs, there were differences. Urban respondents, for example, were the most likely to include fitness programs, educational programs and sports tournaments and races. Rural respondents, on the other hand, were more likely to include camping and climbing programs.

The top five programs among urban facilities were: fitness, day camps and summer camps, holidays and other special events, educational programs, and sports tournaments and races.

The top five programs among suburban facilities were: holidays and other special events, day camps and summer camps, fitness programs, active older adult programming, and educational programs.

The top five programs among rural facilities were holidays and other special events, fitness, day camps and summer camps, educational programs, and sports tournaments and races.