Feature Article - June 2014
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A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Parks & Recreation


Parks Facilities

The number of parks respondents who expect the number of people using their facilities to increase grows slightly from 2011 to 2015. In 2013's industry report, 55 percent of parks respondents said they expected usage to increase from 2011 to 2012. And in 2014, 55.4 percent reported an increase from 2012 to 2013. Nearly six in 10 respondents also expect the number of people using their facilities to increase in 2014 (59.1 percent) and in 2015 (59.2 percent). (See Figure 43.)

Slightly more parks respondents in 2014 said they have plans for construction, compared with 2013. Some 69 percent of 2014 parks respondents have plans for construction, compared with 65.5 percent in 2012. Nearly one-third (32.5 percent) are planning new construction, and more than a quarter (28.9 percent) are planning additions. More than half (52.2 percent) are planning to renovate their existing facilities. (See Figure 44.)

Parks respondents were more likely than non-parks respondents to be planning construction. While 69 percent of parks respondents have plans to construction, among non-parks respondents, just 60.7 percent have such plans.

Parks respondents saw a slight decrease in the amount they are planning to spend for construction of new facilities, additions and renovations, a 4.5 percent decrease from $3,973,000 in 2013 to $3,795,000 in 2014. Parks respondents plan to spend 15.6 percent less than the average construction budget of all survey respondents.

There was little change in the features most commonly found at parks respondents' facilities from 2013 to 2014. The 10 most common features include: park structures such as shelters and restroom buildings; playgrounds; open spaces such as gardens and natural areas; trails; bleachers; outdoor sports courts; natural turf sports fields; concession areas; classrooms and meeting rooms; and community centers.

The number of parks respondents who plan to add features at their facilities fell slightly in 2014, from 48.9 percent in 2013 to 46 percent. That said, parks respondents are among those most likely to be planning to add features at their facilities. The most commonly planned additions include:

  1. Splash play areas (planned by 31.9 percent of parks respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Trails (23.5 percent)
  3. Dog parks (23.2 percent)
  4. Park structures such as shelters and restroom buildings (22.7 percent)
  5. Playgrounds (22.2 percent)
  6. Disc golf courses (18.9 percent)
  7. Open spaces such as gardens and natural areas (16.2 percent)
  8. Synthetic turf sports fields (14.9 percent)
  9. Bleachers and seating (12.7 percent)
  10. Concession areas (11.9 percent)

Features that saw an increase in the number of parks respondents who plan to add them in 2014 vs. 2013 include: splash play areas (up 5.7 percent); disc golf courses (up 2.2 percent); playgrounds (up 1.9 percent); park structures (up 1.1 percent); and bleachers and seating (up 0.6 percent). Concession areas did not appear on the list of top 10 planned additions in 2013.