Survey on parks finds Carroll County residents want more trails, restrooms
By Jennifer Turiano
Carroll County Times|
Mar 22, 2019 | 5:00 AM
Results from a survey on parks and recreation in Carroll County show residents overwhelmingly use walking trails more than other park areas — and want to see more park upgrades and restrooms.
Director Jeff Degitz shared the findings of the 2019 Carroll County Recreation and Parks Community Interest Needs Assessment Survey with the Board of Commissioners on Thursday to discuss future budget priorities.
The survey is distributed once every five years in two ways: a public version available through the county’s website, Facebook page and email blasts; and a random survey mailed out to 1 percent of the county’s households with the goal of receiving a 20 percent response rate.
About 1,100 responses came back from the public survey, Degitz said Thursday. This gives the county perspectives from those who are active in Rec and Parks programs, he said, “who are kind of plugged into our programs already.”
“We got a tremendous response there,” the director said.
But only about 16 percent of those who received the random survey responded, he told the board, which is less than the goal.
“The random 1 percent of county households, that tends to be more of the random county taxpayer,” he said. “They may have never participated in any of our programs.
“I think it’s valuable to get their perspectives,” Degitz added.
Data from the survey shows 85 percent of all respondents use walking trails more than any other existing park areas in the county — twice the percentage for the second- and third-most common answers: playgrounds, with about 35 percent, and areas for wildlife viewing, with about 30 percent.
“Many of these are passive recreation activities,” Degitz told the board. “We are seeing a general shift in that, consistent with the shift in demographics in our county.”
The Long Term Advisory Council tasked with looking at the arts and recreation in Carroll concluded that there is a “huge need for a large multipurpose sports complex” and that within said complex “there must be a large indoor facility as well as several artificial turf fields outside.”
Regarding a community event center — which would provide more space for active recreation — 80 percent of public survey respondents and 69 percent of random respondents said there is a need for such a facility in the county, he said.
The survey results are consistent with the Long Term Advisory Council’s recommendations for recreation and arts in Carroll. The LTAC was tasked in 2017 with making recommendations for different departments, and reported its findings to the Board of Commissioners in late November last year.
The LTAC concluded that there is a “huge need for a large multipurpose sports complex” and that within said complex “there must be a large indoor facility as well as several artificial turf fields outside,” noting that “Carroll County must come up to speed with surrounding counties.”
The most important criteria for using parks, according to survey respondents, are that they are well maintained, that park-goers feel safe, and that they are in a convenient location.
Survey data also indicated for every $100, respondents want the county to dedicate an average of $38 to fix, repair and upgrade older parks; $33 to develop new hiking, walking and biking trails; and $29 to develop new indoor recreational facilities.
The information gathered will be used to help determine what new or additional facilities should be added to parks, Degitz said — like restrooms for the 50 percent of respondents who said that was a top priority.
It will also help determine other goals for the upcoming capital and fiscal year budgets.
"One of the things we take a lot of pride in is we don't like to be put in a box,” Degitz told the commissioners. “We’ve got everything from arts council activities to youth sports, adult sports, non-sports, public shooting range, nature activities — there is really no limit to what we can do.
“And if people want to see an activity, we don't have a problem doing it.”
“I appreciate the work you're doing,” Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5. “It is definitely a ‘listen, learn, lead’ approach.