City of Flagstaff Parks and Recreation Division
The Needs Assessment is derived from input received in public forums, the staff workshop, Commission workshops, the Citizens' Advisory Committee, and the Public Opinion Survey.
Input from the public forums and workshops were summarized in the Inventory and Analysis
Summary Report. A brief discussion in this report sets the stage for a more exhaustive treatment of the data from the Public Opinion Survey. Data from the survey is analyzed and priorities identified from the data are discussed. By analyzing the relationship of the existing inventory of park land to the minimum LOS, surpluses and deficiencies in park land can be identified. In addition to examining the distribution of park land, this analysis provides a basis for an efficiency analysis and an equity analysis.
Public Forums and Staff Workshops
A total of 134 citizens participated in the Public Forums. The relatively small number of participants is likely due to the non-controversial nature of parks and recreation planning issues. Many of those who did participate were members of recreation organizations. This helps explain the tendency for the discussion to emphasize organized sports activities. Among the topics of discussion, one item frequently mentioned was providing facilities for sports tournaments. This was touted as a way to get visitors into Flagstaff, which can enhance economic development. Another frequently mentioned topic was providing activities for youth. Participants felt great concern over potentially increased gang involvement by the city's youth, and felt that providing activities would be a means of countering this trend. Greenbelts and open spaces were also discussed, along with ensuring community equity in developing parks and recreation facilities.
A Parks and Recreation staff workshop was conducted in July 1995. The purpose of this workshop was to gain input from a staff perspective. The workshop focused on two areas - facilities and programs. For facilities, priorities included developing a multi-purpose center with indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and swimming pool, an ice/roller rink with year-round use for each, urban trails tied in with beautification projects, providing more natural open space in parks, and providing playground equipment for older children, ages 8 to 13. Priorities in programming included youth sports, senior programs, swimming lessons, teen social programs, and adult exercise classes. Administrative issues also were a concern. One group stated, 'The key word is 'more' - communication among staff, communication with the community, and more department support for new ideas."
Citizens' Advisory Committee
The Citizens' Advisory Committee provided input in the areas of Public Opinion Survey content and format, establishing goals, objectives, and policies for the Master Plan, and identifying priorities for the Master Plan. For the latter two areas, discussions of issues pertaining to parks and recreation in Flagstaff were analyzed and discussed. These discussions focused on:
A. Lands Acquisition
1. developer impact fees for purchase and development
2. planning zones: parks planned on district basis rather than by each development
3. turn-key development of parks
4. dedication/development: current vs. recommended - types of parks
5. one-of-a-kind facilities
6. Buffalo Park
7. district deficiencies: Lake Mary, Continental
1. maintenance and operation
2. sinking fund for renovation
3. debt financing - bond issues
4. assessments - SID's for parks and recreation
5. city contracts to provide parks and rec. services to county areas
6. revenues from commercial uses (vendors)
7. non-resident vs. resident
1. maintenance and operations contracted vs. in-house
2. ADA and CPSC compliance
3. golf: pitch and putt, youth
4. active representation and review on DRB process
5. are existing parks districts realistic in terms of allocation of park resources within the city?
Public Opinion Survey
The survey consisted of 610 instruments sent by mail to randomly selected addresses within the City of Flagstaff.
The results of the survey can be used as an indicator of parks and recreation preferences of the people of Flagstaff. Survey data provided a balance to the input received at the Public Forums, which emphasized team sports. The Survey reflected a wider range of recreational interests in the community. As shown on the Activity Participation Chart, frequent participation (once per week) in activities such as soccer, softball, basketball, and baseball was limited to 25 percent or fewer of the total respondents for each activity. In the case of preferred comparable spending levels, respondents were interested in spending more on swimming pools, natural area preserves, and children's playgrounds, and spending less on golf courses and handball/racquetball courts. On all responses, the numbers represent percent of total responses to each question.
The following were rated as important to very important:
|Providing safe park and recreation areas||85.6%|
|Protecting open space from development||67.9%|
|Providing more recreation programming for children||60.6%|
|Modifying existing parks to meet the interests and needs of Flagstaff residents||60.1%|
|Providing bicycle paths and trails||55.1%|
|When asked to identify choices on how to operate parks and recreation
facilities, the following were selected:
|Half to three-quarters of a park being left open and natural was preferred by 64.6 percent of respondents.|
|Most respondents felt that 25 to 50 percent of the cost of providing recreation facilities should be borne by the facility users.|
|In response to the question about recreation activities most frequently participated in, walking, hiking, bicycling, soccer, and softball (in that order) were mentioned most.|
|158 households responded to the survey, with a total number of 438 residents. This represents an average of 2.77 persons per household.|
|Survey respondents were evenly distributed in terms of length of residence in Flagstaff.|
Top Ten Recreaton Activities in Flagstaff
In addition to calculating the community-wide LOS, several other important data points can be extracted from the citizen survey. It is important to the City to understand the distribution of participants and non-participants within the population. Based on the survey, 75 percent of those respondents are users of the park and recreation resources. While their personal activities vary considerably, they are participating in recreation activities and programs, and are important stakeholders in the planning process.
The next level of the survey data analysis is to look at what recreation activities Flagstaff citizens participate in most frequently. As a consistency check, comparison of two questions reveals most frequent recreation activities. Question 2 asked respondents to 'list the number of people in your household who were a participant or spectator in the activities listed below in the past year." Four choices of frequency of participation were given: once per year (occasional), once per month (moderate), once per week (frequent), and never participate. The top activities listed were:
|Going to children's playgrounds|
Question 11 asked which recreation activity the respondent participated in most frequently. The top activities listed were:
This suggests a higher level of need for facilities such as trails for walking, jogging, and bicycling; playgrounds; and sports fields. While golf is listed as an activity most frequently participated in, participation at all frequency levels was never much more than 10 percent. Nonparticipation totaled over 70 percent of respondents. Combined with the fact that over 77 percent of respondents think that the City should spend the same or less on golf courses, it appears that these facilities should be given a low priority.
Several activities had higher non-participation rates than expected, based on the results of the public forums. These included soccer, volleyball, softball and baseball, with non-participation rates in the 60th percentile.
Citizens were asked to identify what they believe are barriers to participation in recreation activities. The activity and reason cited in most responses was swimming, due to lack of facilities. The responses validate the need for more swimming facilities expressed in the public forums.
Analysis of the survey data reveals some interesting responses, as well as inconsistencies. Flagstaff citizens show great interest in additional park and recreation facilities and programs; however, their willingness to spend public or personal funds to facilitate these improvements is somewhat limited.
The internal consistency check on these preference responses is found in the policy choice questions, which follow:
|55.3 percent favored developing a large number of small parks used by neighborhood residents while 44.7 percent favored development of a few larger parks used by all city residents.|
|56.9 percent favored improving existing park and recreation areas while 43.1 percent favored buying more land in developing new areas.|
|56.7 percent favored improving existing park and recreation areas, while 43.3 percent favored developing vacant or undeveloped park sites.|
|37.5 percent favored building several small neighborhood swimming pools, while 62.5 percent favored building one large indoor/outdoor community swimming pool.|
|37.9 percent favored spending more on supervised recreation programs while 62.1 percent favored spending more on building park and recreation areas.|
Consistent with previous responses; people favor developing more neighborhood parks, improving existing facilities, building one larger community pool, and spending more money on building facilities.
Survey respondents were asked how they feel about future expenditures of city tax dollars for park and recreation resources and facilities. The context of the question was to elicit a response to what they perceive the city is doing at present. This provides the first clue as to voter sentiment toward future proposals to increase the current level of spending on parks and recreation in Flagstaff.
The responses to this question begin to illustrate trends in how Flagstaff residents may vote with respect to the delivery of their current park and recreation services. The important activities and facilities in which Flagstaff citizens believe more money should be spent are a swimming pool, natural area preserves, bicycle and jogging paths, recreation centers, and playgrounds. In contrast to what was voiced in the public forums, responses indicate that the City should retain the same level of spending on facilities for softball fields, basketball courts, baseball fields, volleyball courts, ice skating areas, and open play areas. Responses that the City should spend more outnumbered responses that the City should spend less. Respondents felt that the City should spend less on golf courses (the City currently spends no money on golf courses), racquetball/handball courts, tennis courts, and outdoor amphitheaters.
The next item in the survey measures the satisfaction level of Flagstaff residents with the park and recreation facilities, programs and services provided by the City. The response was measured with a five-measure response point, from not at all satisfied to very satisfied. Those items' respondents indicated they were satisfied with included:
|Providing recreation for tourists|
|Improving quality of life to attract new businesses|
|Providing bicycle paths and trails|
|Respondents indicated that they were not satisfied with the following:|
|Providing recreation facilities and activities for teenagers|
|Protecting open space from development|
|Expanding recreation programming for children|
|Buying additional park land|
|Providing after school programming for children|
This analysis appears consistent with the importance rating discussed above. There is an apparent disparity between the ostensible community-wide support for more ballfields and soccer fields and the citizen's assessment. Close to half the citizens are currently very satisfied with what is being spent on these facilities. The verbal dissatisfaction with the current facilities indicates either an actual space shortage or inefficiency in scheduling and utilization.
The pricing policy for Flagstaff parks and recreation is based on the philosophy that if an activity benefits the public as a whole, then general funds should be used to provide the service to the community. However, if the benefits are limited to the individual then the activity should not be supported solely by the general public. It is important to identify programs and activities that should be mostly subsidized, mostly self-supporting, or completely self-supporting. It is the general policy that youth programs, which provide structured, supervised activities that help to deter crime and promote self-esteem, be more subsidized than the Adult Athletic programs for example.
It is likely that less federal money for parks and recreation will be forthcoming in the future. The cost of delivering recreation activities and programs is being shifted more to the users of these services. In reference to this growing trend in municipal finance, the survey respondents were asked how they believe the City should develop fee and user charges.
To provide some understanding about citizen's opinions with respect to paying more out-of-pocket for the use of certain park and recreation facilities, Survey respondents were asked what they perceived to be a fair user charge to be paid above existing taxes used to fund them.
Fair Share by Percentage Paid by User Fee
To put these responses into proper perspective, ft is necessary to know the disposable personal income of the community by gross annual income categories. Also, the availability and price structure of private sector equivalents will be analyzed. An important policy consideration of the City should be to determine that a cost recovery pricing policy does not serve as a barrier to participation.
The Importance-Performance Analysis is a technique for evaluating attitudes towards effective resource allocation. It is used to help managers understand the dimensions of customer satisfaction and how resources can be reallocated to achieve greater satisfaction. Clearly, the manager whose performance is high in the customer's most important service will achieve the greatest customer satisfaction. Conversely, poor performance in the customer's most important service areas will yield very low customer satisfaction. Resources such as manpower, materials and capital should be allocated to the most important service areas. The greater the disparity between importance and performance, the more critical it becomes to reallocate resources from less important services areas.
Certain factors exhibit the large difference between perceptions of importance and performance. This was caused by respondents ranking high importance and low performance. The largest differences in the mean scores principally concerned:
|Providing recreation facilities for teenagers.|
|Providing safe park and recreation areas.|
|Preserving environmentally and historically sensitive areas.|
|Protecting open space from development.|
|Making neighborhoods more attractive places.|
The City should not totally abandon those factors with low survey correlation scores. Rather, they should begin immediately to respond to the most important factors of concern to the citizens and proceed with others as time and money will allow.
In order to recommend where new park lands are needed, existing parks are to be expanded, or areas where surpluses exist, areas of deficiency must be identified. The following analysis compares the inventory of existing park and recreation land to the minimum LOS needed to satisfy current demand for park and recreation facilities and services.
Parks Planning Units
Parks planning units were established, based on desirable service areas for neighborhood parks. As discussed in the previous chapter, neighborhoods are defined by barriers to pedestrian circulation. These include arterial streets, the railroad, and terrain. Neighborhood planning units are based on recognizable neighborhoods wherever possible. On the next level, neighborhood-planning units were grouped into four community planning units, defining a service area for community parks.
Population figures for each neighborhood planning unit were derived from 1995 Special Census data. This was used to calculate the acreage of park lands needed to meet the LOS.
Importance of Select Factors, Programs and Services
Importance (mean score)
Performance (mean score)
|Providing recreation facilities for teenagers||4.07||2||2.64||17||1.43||1|
|Providing safe park and recreation areas||4.37||1||3.01||7||1.36||2|
|Preserving environmentally and historically sensitive places||4.01||3||2.81||12||1.20||3|
|Protecting open space from development||3.89||5||2.72||14||1.17||4|
|Making neighborhoods more attractive places||3.89||5||2.76||13||1.13||5|
|Providing more recreation programming for children||3.74||9||2.70||15||1.04||6|
|Providing play areas for young children||3.98||4||2.96||8||1.02||7|
|Providing facilities for older adults and senior citizens||3.77||7||2.84||10||0.93||8|
|Modifying existing parks to meet the needs and interests of residents||3.75||8||2.82||11||0.93||8|
|Buying more park land||3.46||13||2.65||16||0.81||9|
|Providing after school programs for children||3.62||10||2.90||9||0.72||10|
|Providing attractive and well-maintained buildings and grounds||3.82||6||3.12||4||0.70||11|
|Providing facilities for sports||3.51||12||3.01||7||0.50||12|
|Providing bicycle paths and trails||3.57||11||3.17||3||0.40||13|
|Making existing facilities more modern and attractive||3.38||14||3.01||7||0.37||14|
|Providing facilities for cultural programs||3.36||15||3.02||6||0.34||15|
|Providing city special events and programs||3.29||16||3.17||3||0.12||16|
|Improving quality of life to attract new businesses||2.89||17||3.35||2||-0.46||17|
|Providing recreation for tourists||2.28||18||3.65||1||-1.37||18|
Surpluses and Deficiencies
At the neighborhood level, parks classified as pocket parks were included in the analysis. These parks serve as de facto neighborhood parks, helping to satisfy demand. In addition, facilities classified as special purpose (i.e. recreation centers) were also included only if space on the site was available for park facilities. Certain neighborhoods are listed as deficient, but this is alleviated by the fact that a larger classification of park is located in that neighborhood. For example, Elden Heights neighborhood contains Buffalo and Thorpe Parks, and Lower Greenlaw contains Bushmaster Park. These larger parks can satisfy demand for neighborhood parks when located within a neighborhood.
A special situation exists for the NAU campus. This planning unit has a large population (over 8,000), but has recreation facilities and park-like amenities provided by the university. Conversely, on-campus residents can and do contribute to demand by using parks off-campus.
Several neighborhoods which are especially deficient in park lands include:
|Sunnyside South: the existing Mount Elden Little League complex has no room for additional facilities. Currently there are no parks within this planning unit.|
|Upper Greenlaw: the only park in this neighborhood is Linda Vista (1.4 acres). Additional land will be needed to meet demand. There is readily accessible open space land north of the neighborhood.|
|Smokerise: this neighborhood is served by Smokerise park (0.75 acres).|
|Elden Hills: larger lots and the golf course may mitigate the deficiency of park lands in this neighborhood. Foxglenn Park abuts the southern end of this neighborhood, and may help satisfy demand for parks.|
Flagstaff is generally deficient in community parks. This is especially true in the Lake Mary planning unit. Specific deficiencies include:
|Lake Mary: this community planning unit has no current community park facility. This will be exacerbated by continued residential development in the area.|
|Bushmaster: the existing Bushmaster Park meets less than half of current demand. Buffalo and McPherson Parks are immediately to the west and may help to meet demand.|
|Country Club: current demand is being satisfied. The availability of city-owned land adjacent to Foxglenn Park should allow future demands to be met.|
|Thorpe: deficiency is partially mitigated by Thorpe Park.|
The very large sizes of the two citywide parks (Thorpe and Buffalo) provide the city with a surplus of land in this classification. This surplus can be used for siting certain special purpose facilities. Whether these parks offer suitable locations for these facilities will depend on the nature of the facility, and will need to be analyzed further.
Flagstaff is extremely deficient in special purpose facilities. This was also borne out in the Public Opinion Survey and Public Forums. Specific facilities needed include outdoor sports field complexes, indoor/outdoor activity centers, and an aquatics facility.
|Neighborhood||Population||Existing Acreage||Required Acreage||Surplus/Deficiency|
|Neighborhood Parks - 2.03 Acres/1000 Population|
|Community Parks - 2.85/1,000 population|
|City-Wide Parks - 4.06 Acres/1000 Population|
|Special Purpose Facility - 2.13 Acres/1000 Population|
|Overall LOS - 11.07 Acres/1000 Population|
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