Feature Article - June 2007
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Building Active, Involved Communities

A Look at Trends in Parks & Community Recreation Centers

Parks and recreation departments help build our communities and connect us with opportunities for recreation, leisure activities, fitness, education and much more. Parks and community centers improve the quality of life for the citizens they serve. They help build local economies, providing jobs, as well as incentives to lure businesses that provide even more jobs. In urban areas, parks are often the only places people can congregate in the outdoors. In suburban communities, park districts often provide opportunities to get entire families involved in fitness. And in rural areas, park picnic areas and playgrounds provide a place to gather with fellow community members.

Parks and recreation departments were more likely than the average survey respondent to report increases in the number of people using their facilities in 2006, and were more likely to project increases for 2007 and 2008. They also were less likely to see decreases. Nearly 69 percent of parks and recreation department respondents said the number of people using their facilities increased from 2005 to 2006, compared to just over 63 percent of all respondents. By 2008, nearly three-quarters of parks and recreation respondents projected increases for their facilities, and less than 2 percent expected to see a decrease in the number of users. (See Figure 35.)

Despite this fact, many are concerned about improving participation in parks and recreation facilities, whether it's through creating new and innovative programming options or by improving marketing techniques. Marketing and increasing participation was one of the top five current issues of concern for parks and recreation respondents, and was expected to be a concern still in three years.