Feature Article - June 2015
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Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Park Facilities

The number of park respondents who reported an increase in usage at their facilities grew from 2013 to 2014. Last year, 55.4 percent of respondents said usage had increased from 2012 to 2013. This year, 60.6 percent said usage had grown from 2013 to 2014. Another 31.3 percent said there was no change in usage from 2013 to 2014. And 8.1 percent said the number of people using their facilities decreased in that time period. (See Figure 43.)

Looking forward, similar numbers expect to see further increases in usage, with 63.1 percent of park respondents projecting an increase from 2014 to 2015 and 60.9 percent expecting an increase from 2015 to 2016. Just 4.1 percent are expecting a decrease in 2015, and 1.3 percent projected a decrease in 2016.

The number of parks respondents who have plans for construction over the next three years has been on the rise since 2012. In 2012, 64.8 percent of parks respondents had plans to build new, make additions or renovate their existing facilities. In 2015, 72.6 percent had such plans. (See Figure 44.) Nearly one-third (32.4 percent) are planning to build new, while 29.9 percent are planning additions, and more than half (53.1 percent) intend to renovate their existing facilities.

Parks respondents are far more likely to be planning construction than non-parks respondents. While 72.6 percent of parks respondents in 2015 have construction plans, 61.6 percent of non-parks respondents had such plans.

While the average budget for construction for all facilities fell by 10.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, parks respondents reported a slight increase to their budget for construction, with an increase of 2.2 percent from $3,795,000 in 2014 to $3,880,000 in 2015. Parks respondents plan to spend 3.6 percent less than the average for all respondents, a margin that has decreased dramatically from 2014, when parks respondents were planning to spend 15.6 percent less than the average for all respondents.

There was little change in the features most commonly found at park respondents' facilities from 2014 to 2015. The 10 most common features include: playgrounds; park shelters such as picnic areas and gazebos; park restroom structures; walking and hiking trails; open spaces such as gardens and natural areas; bleachers and seating; outdoor sports courts; natural turf sports fields; concession areas; and classrooms and meeting rooms.

The number of parks respondents who have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years increased substantially from 2014 to 2015. In 2014, 46 percent of parks respondents had such plans. In 2015, 54.4 percent said they have plans to add features. Parks respondents are much more likely than non-parks respondents to have plans to add features. Just 35.3 percent of non-parks respondents have such plans.