2015 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment

The City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities conducted a citywide Needs Assessment survey during Summer/Fall 2015. 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.

Page updated on Nov 24, 2015 at 5:07 PM

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 2013 and 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 allowing the results to have a 95% level of confidence with a precision of at least +/-3.3%.
 

Click here to view the full 2015 Needs Assessment Report, including results by demographic group. Click here to view the 2013 Needs Assessment report and 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 (2015 & 2011) every four years in order to assess change in residents' needs over time.

The following summarizes major survey findings:

  • A Good Percentage of Households Have Visited City of Alexandria Parks. Eighty-five percent (85%) of households have visited parks/open spaces operated by he City of Alexandria during the past 12 months. This is up 3% from the 2013 survey.
  • Good Rating Remains High on the City of Alexandria Parks. Of the households that have visited City of Alexandria parks/open spaces during the past 12 months, 8% rated the parks/open spaces they’ve visited as “excellent”, and 57% rated them as “good”. An additional 14% of households rated the parks/open spaces as “fair”, and only 1% rated them as “poor”. Excellent ratings have increased 5% from the 2013 survey
  • Participation in City of Alexandria Recreation Programs. Fifty-two percent (52%) of households have participated in recreation programs offered by the City of Alexandria during the past 12 months. Based on the percentage of respondents who have participated in programs offered by the City, 48% have participated in two to three programs. Other amounts of participation include: one program (23%), four to six programs (22%), seven to ten programs (6%), and eleven or more programs (1%). Participation in programs is up from 48% in 2013.
  • Satisfaction with the Program Services Provided by the City of Alexandria. Based on the percentage of respondents who have participated in programs offered by the City, 86% indicated they are either “very satisfied” (30%) or “satisfied” (56%) with the location of programs. Other major categories with similar levels of satisfaction include: times programs are offered (83%), facility safety (81%), quality
    of the facility where program is offered (80%) and fees charged for value received (74%).
  • Quality of City of Alexandria Recreation Programs. Of the households that have participated in City of Alexandria recreation programs during the past 12 months, 7% rated the quality of the programs as “excellent”, and 63% rated them as “good”. An additional 10% of households rated the programs as “fair”, and 0% rated them as “poor”. Excellent rating is down from 33% in 2013
  • Respondents Are Generally Satisfied with the Aesthetic Appearance and Quality of Alexandria’s Public Lands: Based on the percentage of respondents, 78% of respondents were either very satisfied (21%), or satisfied (57%). Other ratings of the aesthetic appearance and quality are: neutral (14%), dissatisfied (6%), and very dissatisfied (1%).
  • Ways Households Learn About City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. The most frequently mentioned ways that households learn about services offered by the City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities are: from friends and neighbors (42%), City of Alexandria website (37%), newspaper (36%), and internet search (32%). Schools and ACPS communications are up 4% from 2011 and 2013.
  • Awareness that the City of Alexandria Operates a Public Art Program: Sixty-six percent (66%) of respondents were unaware that the City of Alexandria operates a public art program. Other ratings of awareness are: somewhat aware (26%), and very aware (8%).
  • Ways Households Travel to the Parks and Recreation Facilities. The most frequently mentioned ways that households travel to the parks and recreation facilities they use are: car (87%), bike (78%), and walk (37%).
  • Support for the City of Alexandria Partnering With Neighboring Jurisdictions: Fifty-four percent (52%) of respondents are either very supportive (31%), or somewhat supportive (21%) of the City of Alexandria partnering with neighboring jurisdictions on the development of a 50 meter pool at Long Bridge Park. The remaining respondents were not sure (29%) or not supportive (19%)
  • Parks, Recreation, or Cultural Facilities Households Have a Need For. The parks, recreation, or cultural facilities that the highest percentage of households have need for are: walking paths (89%), natural areas and wildlife habitats (71%), biking trails (67%), open lawns and landscape (65%), picnic shelters/areas (57%), marina/waterfront (56%), and outdoor leisure/recreational swimming pool (55%)
  • Walking Paths Are By a Wide Margin the Most Important Parks, Recreation, or Cultural Facilities to Households. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the parks, recreation, or cultural facilities that are most important to households are: walking paths (56%), biking trails (35%), natural areas and wildlife habitats (27%), and playgrounds (23%).
  • Farmers Market and Cultural Special Events Are the Top Two Most Needed Recreation and Cultural Programs. The recreation and cultural programs that the highest percentage of households have a need for are: farmers’/outdoor markets (82%), cultural special events (75%), partnership/volunteer opportunities (50%), adult fitness and wellness programs (49%), and nature programs/environmental education (47%)
  • Cultural Special Events Are the Most Important Recreation and Cultural Program to Households. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the recreation and cultural programs that are most important to households are: farmers’/outdoor markets (50%), cultural special events (45%), adult fitness and wellness programs (20%), youth learn to swim instruction (16%), and partnership/volunteer
    opportunities (16%).
  • Recreation and Cultural Programs That Households Participate in Most Often. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the recreation and cultural programs that households participate in most often are: farmers’/outdoor markets (54%), cultural special events (41%), youth learn to swim instruction (12%), and youth athletic leagues (10%).
  • Importance of Actions the City of Alexandria Could Take to Improve Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities Services: Based on the sum of respondents’ selection of “very important” or “somewhat important”, 88% indicated it is important to improve existing neighborhood parks. Other purposes with similar levels of importance include: improve existing walking, hiking and biking trails 85%), develop new walking, hiking and biking trails (81%) and purchase land to preserve natural areas, wildlife habitats and views (72%).
  • Actions That Could be Taken That Respondent Households Would be Most Willing to Support With Their Tax Dollars. Based on the sum of their top four choices, the actions respondents would be most willing to support include: improve existing neighborhood parks (49%), improve existing walking, hiking and biking trails (44%), develop new walking, hiking and biking trails (37%), and purchase land to preserve natural areas, wildlife habitats and views (37%).

 

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