2011 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment
The City of Alexandria conducted a Needs Assessment Survey during May and June of 2011. The purpose of the survey was to establish priorities for the future development of parks, recreation, cultural facilities, programs and services within your community. The survey was designed to obtain statistically valid results from households throughout the City of Alexandria. The survey was administered by a consultant, Leisure Vision, through a combination of mail and phone.
Leisure Vision worked extensively with the City of Alexandria officials in the development of the survey questionnaire. This work allowed the survey to be tailored to issues of strategic importance to effectively plan the future system. The seven-page survey was mailed to a random sample of 3,000 households in the City of Alexandria. Approximately three days after the surveys were mailed, each household that received a survey also received an automated voice message encouraging them to complete the survey. In addition, about two weeks after the surveys were mailed, Leisure Vision began contacting households by phone. Those who indicated they had not returned the survey were given the option of completing it by phone.
The goal was to obtain a total of at least 600 completed surveys from City of Alexandria households. This goal was accomplished, with a total of 601 surveys having been completed. The results of the random sample of 601 households have a 95% level of confidence with a precision of at least +/-4.0%.
Click here to view the full Needs Assessment findings
or here to view a summary presentation of the findings
The following summarizes major survey findings:
- Visitation of Parks. Eighty-five percent (85%) of households indicated that they have visited any of the City of Alexandria parks during the past year. Of this 85% of households, 86% rated the physical condition of all the city parks visited as either “excellent” (23 %) or “good” (63%). The remaining households rated the parks as follows: “fair” (13%) and “poor” (1%).
- Travel to Parks and Recreation Amenities. The most frequently mentioned way that households travel to indoor and outdoor parks and recreation amenities is by car (79%). The second most frequently mentioned way that households travel to indoor and outdoor parks and recreation amenities is by walking (71%).
It should also be noted that “public transportation” (6%) is the least used way that households travel to indoor and outdoor parks and recreation amenities.
Participation in Recreation or Cultural Programs or Special Events. Forty-six percent (46%) of respondent households indicated that they had participated in any recreation or cultural programs or special events offered by the City of Alexandria during the past 12 months. Of the 46% of respondents that indicated that they have participated in any recreation or cultural programs or special events, 72% indicated that they had participated in at least 2-3 programs or special events in the past 12 months.
In addition, of the 46% of respondent households that indicated that they have participated in any recreation or cultural programs or special events, 90% indicated that they would rate the overall quality of the recreation or cultural programs or special events their household has participated in as either “excellent” (30%) or “good” (60%). Of the remaining respondent households, 9% rated them as “fair” and only 1% rated them as “poor”.
Ways Households Learn About Services Offered. The two most frequently mentioned ways that respondents learn about the services that are offered by the City of Alexandria Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities are by newspaper (46%) and from friends and neighbors (46%). Other frequently mentioned ways respondents learn about services offered are from the City of Alexandria website (34%) and from the recreation brochure/program guide (29%).
Need for Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Amenities. There are five parks, recreation, and cultural amenities that over 55% of households have a need for: walking trails (84%), natural areas and wildlife habitats (67%), biking trails (62%), picnic shelters/areas (57%), and indoor exercise and fitness facilities (55%).
Most Important Parks, Recreation and Cultural Amenities. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the parks, recreation, and cultural amenities that households rated as the most important are: walking trails (57%), biking trails (34%), and natural areas and wildlife habitats (30%).
Need for Recreation and Cultural Programs. The recreation and cultural programs that the highest percentage of households have a need for include: farmers’ markets (84%) and cultural special events (61%).
Most Important Recreation and Cultural Programs. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the recreation and cultural programs that households rated as the most important include: farmers’ market (59%) and cultural special events (37%).
Organizations Used for Recreation and Cultural Activities. City of Alexandria Park, Recreation, and Cultural Activities (60%) is the most frequently mentioned organization used for recreation and cultural activities during the last 12 months. Other frequently mentioned organizations used include: state or regional parks (54%) and national park/forest service (41%).
Reasons Preventing Households from Using Facilities or Programs More Often. “I do not know what is being offered” (41%) was by far the most frequently mentioned reason preventing households from using City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities facilities or programs more often. It should also be noted that the least mentioned reason preventing household from using facilities or programs from the City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities was that they were “not accessible for people with disabilities (2%).
Actions Households Are Most Willing to Support with Tax Dollars. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the actions that households are most willing to support with their tax dollars are: improve existing walking, hiking, and biking trails (44%), purchase land to preserve natural areas and wildlife (42%), and develop walking and biking trails that connect parks (41%).
Benefits of Parks, Trails, Recreation Facilities and Services Most Important to Households. Based on the sum of their top three choices, the benefits of parks, trails, recreation facilities and services that are most important to households are: improves physical health and fitness (60%), makes Alexandria a more desirable place to live (57%) and preserves open space and the environment (37%).
Other Findings. Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents indicated that there are parks within walking distance of their residence. For each of the four age groups surveyed (ranging from ages 11 and under to ages 55 and older) the organizations that they indicated they use the most for recreation and cultural activities were: the City of Alexandria Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Activities.