Thursday April 18, 2013
From January 17 to February 22 of 2013 the South Burlington Recreation and Parks Department and the Recreation and Leisure Arts Committee conducted a survey of residents’ opinions concerning recreation. The survey was offered online via Survey Monkey; paper copies of the survey were also available. The survey was announced each week in The Other Paper and was announced through other media as well.
182 people submitted survey responses. Their 182 responses provide a rich source of information to the Recreation Department and the Recreation Committee that will help us as we strive to improve the programs and facilities that we offer our community.
Since the respondents were not randomly chosen, no statistically significant conclusions about the opinions of the entire South Burlington population can be drawn from their responses. That having been said, there were some interesting patterns evident, which are summarized here.
Who responded to the survey?
All the respondents were adults, all but 10 of them 30 years old or older; a third were 60 and up. Most of them (75%) place High Importance on recreation; almost all of them (over 98%) place Medium or High Importance on recreation. About 43% of respondents have children under 18 in their household; 57% do not. In the past 12 months most (71%) had a family member participate in a program offered by the SB Recreation Department; over 60% participated in programs offered through other communities or agencies.
What did respondents have to say about our community’s recreation programs?
Most respondents (85%) who rated the quality of SB Recreation Department offerings rated them as Good or Excellent. There were comments praising the variety of programs offered to all age groups, such as “consistently high quality of attention given to imaginative planning to meet the needs of various ages and interest groups.” Many comments praised the quality of the staff, who were described as “knowledgeable”, “dedicated” “easy to communicate with”, “enthusiastic” and “attentive.” There were numerous requests for more Family Events (15 respondents) and more Arts & Crafts programs (12 respondents.)
What did respondents have to say about our community’s recreation facilities?
Respondents generally appreciated the accessibility of recreation paths, parks and open spaces. However, they wanted more open space/conserved land (67%), more pedestrian/bike paths (65%), an indoor swimming pool (57%), a multi-generational community center (54%) and more community gardens (50%). These were followed closely by requests for a community teen center (48%), a community senior center (47%) and community gym space (47%.)
What conclusions can we draw?
While the opinions expressed by our 182 survey respondents are not necessarily typical of those of all South Burlington residents, the people who did respond generally hold the programs and staff of the Recreation and Parks Department in high regard. The respondents want to see more open space conserved in the city, want more recreation paths constructed, want an indoor community pool, want to have a multi-generational community center and want more community gardens.
We believe it would be desirable to offer a similar survey again in a year or two, to give residents an opportunity to express their opinions anonymously and to see how patterns of response may have shifted.
Submitted by: Glenn Sproul, Chair, Recreation & Leisure Arts Committee