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Page updated Dec 4, 2013 9:22 PM

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2013 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Needs Assessment

The City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities conducted a citywide Needs Assessment survey during Summer/Fall 2013. The purpose of the survey was to establish priorities for the future development of Alexandria’s parks, recreation, cultural facilities, programs and services based on identified community needs. The City of Alexandria, with a consultant, Leisure Vision, designed and administered the survey to obtain statistically valid results from households and to benchmark findings against the 2011 Needs Assessment results.

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 five-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 850 surveys having been completed. The results of the random sample of 850 households have a 95% level of confidence with a precision of at least +/-3.3%.

Click here to view the full 2013 Needs Assessment report, including results by demographic group. Click here to view the 2011 Needs Assessment findings. The Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities conducts a short-version survey (2013) every other year and a long-version survey (2011) every five years in order to assess change in residents' needs over time.

The following summarizes major survey findings:

  • Visitation of Parks. Eighty-two percent (82%) of respondents visited the City of Alexandria Parks within the past 12 months. This is higher than the national benchmark of seventy-eight percent (78%). Of those, eighty-two percent (82%) of respondents who visited the parks, twenty-three percent (23%) of respondents rated the parks as being in “excellent” condition. Other condition ratings include: Sixty-one percent (61%) “good,” fifteen percent (15%) “fair,” and only one percent (1%) rated the condition of the parks as “poor.”
  • Travel to Parks and Recreation Amenities. Forty-five percent (45%) of respondents use a “car” as their means of travel to both indoor and outdoor parks and recreation facilities. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of respondents “walk” to these destinations. Thirteen percent (13%) of respondents use a “bike” as means to travel to indoor and outdoor parks and recreation facilities. The remaining five (5%) of respondents use public transportation to these facilities.
  • Participation in Recreation or Cultural Programs or Special Events. Forty-eight percent (48%) of respondents said that they have participated in the City of Alexandria programs or activities within the past 12 months, which reflects a 2% increase since the 2011 needs assessment. City of Alexandria respondent participation in programs at forty-eight percent (48%) is significantly higher (by a margin of 18%) than that of the national average at thirty percent (30%).

    Of the forty-eight percent (48%) of households who participated in programs over the past 12 months, thirty-three (33%) rated the overall quality of programs they have participated in as “excellent.” The “excellent” rating on the overall quality of programs respondents have participated in has gone up three percent (3%) since 2011. Sixty percent (60%) of respondents rate the overall quality of programs they have participated in as “good.” The “good” rating of 2013 is consistent with the “good” rating in 2011.  Respondent rating of the quality of the recreation programs they have participated in has a “good” rating of sixty percent (60%) which is seven percent (7%) higher than the national average of fifty-three (53%).
  • Ways Households Learn about Services Offered. Fifty percent (50%) of respondent households say that they learn about programs and activities offered by the City of Alexandria through the “newspaper.” Other ways households learn about programs and activities offered by the City of Alexandria include: From friends and neighbors (48%), City of Alexandria website (42%) and through the Recreation Brochure and Program Guide (38%).

    However, thirty-eight percent (38%) of respondents say that they would like to receive information about programs and activities that the City of Alexandria offers through the City of Alexandria website. Other ways respondents would like to receive information from the City of Alexandria about the services they offer include: Recreation brochure/program guide (35%) and through the newspaper (34%).
  • Need for Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Facilities. Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents (representing 54,874 households) have a need for “walking trails.” Other similar needs include: Natural areas and wildlife habitats (67% representing 45,887 households), biking trails (53% representing 36,015 households) and indoor exercise and fitness facilities (52%; representing 35,062 households). Based on the sum of respondents with a need for facilities, sixty-seven percent (67%) of respondents with a need for “walking trails” has a rate of 75% or more of their needs being met. Respondents whose needs for facilities are being met 50% or less include: natural areas (representing 21,200 households), indoor exercise and fitness facilities (representing 21,143 households) and indoor swimming pools (representing 19,286 households).

    In terms of comparison, the need for indoor fitness and exercise facilities in Alexandria is fifty-two percent (52%) compared to the national average of forty-six (46%). The need for indoor/leisure pools in Alexandria is forty-seven percent (47%) compared at the national average of forty-three percent (43%). The need for an indoor running/walking track in Alexandria is forty-five percent (45%) compared to the national average of forty-three percent (43%). These results are similar to the 2011 findings, as shown in the full report.
  • Need for Recreation and Cultural Programs. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of respondents (representing 52,083 households) state they have a need for Farmer’s Market programs. Other household needs include: Cultural special events, i.e. concerts, movies (59% representing 39,964 households), adult fitness and wellness programs (44% representing 29,820 households) and outdoor public art (42% representing 28,594 households). Respondents’ unmet needs for programs only being met around 50% or less include: Adult fitness and wellness programs (representing 20,188 households), adult continuing education programs (representing 18,991 households), outdoor public art (representing 18,186 households), cultural special events (representing 17,904 households) and natural programs and environmental education (representing 17,336 households).

    Some significant percent change increases since the 2011 survey include: a +24% change in the unmet need of outdoor public art a +21% change in the unmet need for Adult Continuing Education. Percent change decreases include: -18% change in indoor rental spaces, -12% in youth learn to swim programs, -12% in preschool programs, -16% in Athletic Special Events, and -29% in Farmers Markets.
  • Actions Household are Most Willing to Support with Tax Dollars. Based on the sum of respondents’ top four choices, forty-eight percent (48%) of respondents said that they would be most willing to fund the improvement of trails that connect parks, which is the highest response of all choices. Other actions respondents are willing to fund with their tax dollars include: purchase land to preserve natural areas (41%), develop new trails that connect parks (40%) and improve existing passive use neighborhood parks (31%).
  • Respondents Awareness of the City of Alexandria’s Public Art Program. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of respondents were “somewhat aware” of Alexandria’s public art program. Six percent (6%) of respondents were “very aware.” Fifty-five percent (55%) of respondents were “not aware.” Yet, thirty percent (30%) of respondents have a need for adult art, dance, and performing arts, exceeding the national benchmark of (19%).