Feature Article - June 2013
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Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Parks Facilities

The number of parks respondents who expect the number of people using their facilities to increase generally falls from 2009 to 2014. While 56.3 percent of parks respondents said usage of their facilities had increased from 2009 to 2010, by 2014, just 52.5 percent are expecting an increase. That said, parks respondents were slightly more likely to expect increasing usage than the survey population at large. They also were slightly less likely to report decreases in the numbers of people using their facility. While 55 percent of parks respondents said usage had grown from 2011 to 2012 and 9.6 percent reported a decrease, 52.7 percent of the entire survey population reported an increase, and 9.8 percent reported a decrease. (See Figure 42.)

Slightly more parks respondents in 2013 than 2012 reported that they have plans for construction over the next three years. While 64.8 percent of parks respondents had such plans in 2012, 65.5 percent of 2013 respondents report that they have construction plans. More than half (50.5 percent) of parks respondents indicated that they have plans to renovate their existing facilities. More than a quarter said they will be making additions (27.9 percent) or building new facilities (28.3 percent). (See Figure 43.)

Parks respondents were more likely than non-parks respondents to be planning construction. While just over a third (34.5 percent) of parks respondents indicated they have no plans for construction right now, among non-parks respondents, 38.9 percent said they have no plans.

Bucking the trend, parks respondents in 2013 reported an increase in the amount they plan to spend on their construction plans. While across the board, the average amount planned for construction decreased by 2 percent, the average planned for construction by parks respondents increased by 15.5 percent, from $3,440,000 in 2012 to $3,973,000 in 2013. That said, parks respondents plan to spend 4 percent less than the across-the-board average of $4,139,000.

Once again, there was no change in the features included among the 10 amenities most likely to be found at park respondents' facilities from 2012 to 2013. There was no change at all in the top three features included: playgrounds; park structures such as shelters and restroom buildings; and open spaces such as fields, gardens and undeveloped areas. Other amenities most commonly found among parks respondents include: bleachers and seating; outdoor sports courts for sports like basketball or tennis; natural turf sports fields for sports like baseball, football and soccer; trails; concession areas; classrooms and meeting rooms; and community centers.

The number of parks respondents planning to add features at their facilities has seen a slow increase over the past several years, from 47.5 percent in 2011 to 48.9 percent in 2013. Parks respondents were much more likely than many of their counterparts to indicate they had such plans. Slightly less than one-third (32.7 percent) of non-parks respondents indicated that they had plans to add features at their facilities.

The most commonly planned additions include:

  1. Dog parks (planned by 26.7 percent of parks respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Splash play areas (26.2 percent)
  3. Trails (24.4 percent)
  4. Park structures such as shelters and restroom buildings (21.6 percent)
  5. Playgrounds (20.3 percent)
  6. Skateparks (17.5 percent)
  7. Synthetic turf sports fields (17.2 percent)
  8. Disc golf courses (16.7 percent )
  9. Open spaces such as fields, gardens and undeveloped areas (16.5 percent)
  10. Bleachers and seating (12.1 percent)

Features that saw an increase in the number of parks respondents who plan to add them in 2013 vs. 2012 include splash play areas (up 2.8 percent), skateparks (up 2.7 percent) and synthetic turf sports fields (up 0.3 percent). Bleachers and seating did not appear among the top 10 planned additions in 2012.