Feature Article - June 2009
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A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Still Building

Despite their crunching budgets, respondents from parks and recreation organizations were slightly more likely than average to be planning to build new facilities, or make additions and renovations to their existing facilities. While 63.3 percent of all respondents indicate that they have construction plans in place, around two-thirds (66.7 percent) of parks respondents indicated they have plans. This is down from last year, when 78.6 percent of respondents in this category had construction plans. Still, more than one-third (34.6 percent) are planning brand-new facilities, and nearly a third (31.2 percent) are planning additions. Another 46.7 percent plan renovations to their existing facilities within the next several years. (See Figure 40.)

In line with the parks that predominate in this portion of the industry, the main features found among these respondents' facilities include things like playgrounds, park structures, open spaces and sports fields. The top 10 amenities currently included at park respondents' facilities were:

  1. Playgrounds (included by 81.4 percent of park respondents)
  2. Park structures like restroom buildings and picnic shelters (80.6 percent)
  3. Open spaces like natural areas and gardens (71.6 percent)
  4. Outdoor sports courts for games like basketball and tennis (70.6 percent)
  5. Natural turf sports fields for baseball and football (70.6 percent)
  6. Trails (68.4 percent)
  7. Bleachers and seating (68.3 percent)
  8. Concession areas (65.4 percent)
  9. Classrooms and meeting rooms (53.7 percent)
  10. Community or multipurpose centers (49.3 percent)

Many of these same types of amenities dominate the plans park respondents have for improving their facilities over the next three years, with some notable additions. For example, park structures, trails and playgrounds are all among the top five planned additions for these respondents' facilities. Also appearing in the top five are splash play areas and dog parks. New additions this year to the top 10 planned additions include skateparks and disc golf courses. Other top 10 planned features include: open spaces, natural turf sports fields, and bleachers and seating.