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Feature Article - June 2018

Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation


Park Facilities

The number of parks respondents who reported increasing numbers of people using their facilities fell slightly, with 61.4 percent reporting an increase from 2015 to 2016, and 56.4 percent reporting an increase from 2016 to 2017. (See Figure 45.) At the same time, the percentage of parks respondents who saw the number of people using their facilities decrease grew from 5 percent reporting a decrease in 2016 to 6.2 percent reporting a decrease in 2017.


Looking forward, the percentage of parks respondents who expect to see further increases in the number of people using their facilities holds relatively steady, with 58.3 percent projecting an increase in 2018, and 57.5 percent projecting an increase in 2019. At the same time, the number of parks respondents expecting to see usage decrease fell to 2.7 percent projecting a decrease for 2018 and 1.9 percent for 2019.

The number of parks respondents who have plans for construction has been gradually increasing over the past several years. In 2015, 72.6 percent of parks respondents had plans for construction, and by 2018's survey, that number had grown to 76.6 percent. More than one-third of parks respondents (33.9 percent) said they are planning new construction. Slightly fewer (32.6 percent) are planning additions at their existing facilities, and nearly six in 10 (57.7 percent) said they are planning renovations. (See Figure 46.)


Parks respondents are much more likely than non-parks respondents to be planning construction. While 76.6 percent of parks respondents in 2018 have plans for construction over the next few years, only 64.7 percent of non-parks respondents have such plans.

Parks respondents reported a sharper-than-average decrease to their construction budgets from 2017 to 2018. This year's respondents will spend 7 percent less than 2017's respondents, with the average construction cost falling from $4,689,000 to $4,360,000. This compares with a 0.2 percent decrease for all respondents. In 2018, parks respondents plan to spend 1.6 percent more than the average for all respondents.

There was little change to the features most commonly found among park respondents' facilities from 2017 to 2018, with some features becoming more or less prevalent, but all of the most common features remaining the most common. The 10 most common features found among park respondents' facilities include: playgrounds, park shelters such as gazebos and picnic shelters, park restroom structures, bleachers and seating, outdoor sports courts for sports like basketball or tennis, open spaces such as gardens and natural areas, walking and hiking trails, natural turf sports fields, concessions, and classrooms and meeting rooms.

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