Level of Service Standards (LOS)

The LOS Process

The Level of Service (LOS) has been calculated to determine whether the park and recreation needs of Flagstaff are being met with existing resources. It also is used to aid in determining where park resources are deficient. The method used in calculating the LOS is needs-based, facilities-driven, and land-measured. It is a function of current, real demand for park and recreational opportunities. In its broader sense, it is a measure of all relevant facilities throughout the community. The LOS standard is similar to standards used to determine the appropriate facilities needed to deliver the level of infrastructure services such as municipal water, sewer, drainage, police, fire, and education.

The LOS standard is derived by identifying the spaces and facilities required to meet actual recreation demand and determining the minimum land necessary to provide those park and recreation facilities. Although the standard is measured in acres per 1,000 people, it is based on the premise that land alone does not meet demand. The LOS standard is the sum of recreation opportunities produced by activity areas and facilities that actually meet demand. In other words, just having land near a neighborhood without facilities on that land may not actually meet park and recreation demand. If it is determined that there is a need for certain recreational facilities, then until those facilities are in place, those recreation needs are not being met.

The data required to calculate the LOS for parks and recreation in Flagstaff was obtained through the Public Opinion Survey. The survey was designed to measure need, participation patterns, and most frequently used facilities, as well as actual yearly participation in recreation activities. Recreation demand is calculated by ascertaining recreation use or participation through a "menu" of park areas and facilities. Using this menu of recreation choices is the basic foundation for determining the LOS.

The LOS provides a statistical basis for allocating parks and recreation resources. Due to the subjectiveness of data on recreation supply, and actual use levels, the LOS can be tempered. It can be used as a check against actual conditions. By comparing and contrasting survey data with information received in public forums and workshops, a true picture of parks and recreation needs can be developed.

The Recreation Activity Menu

Recreation Activity Menus (RAM) provide the basis for quantifying recreation demand. Recreation demand is calculated by ascertaining recreation use or participation through a menu of park areas and facilities. Three elements are combined to provide the RAMS.

1. Determine the Parks Classifications to be used in the Flagstaff Parks System.

2. Determine, based on the Public Opinion Survey, typical recreation activities for each park


3. Determine space size requirements for each of the recreation activities.

Park Classifications

Four types of parks make up the classifications for the City of Flagstaff. These include neighborhood parks, community parks, city-wide parks, and special purpose facilities. Pocket Park is a classification that was developed in response to the large number of very small parks in Flagstaff. Pocket parks are not recommended as a planning tool for meeting recreation demand. Their small size limits their functionality in providing the recreational needs at the neighborhood level. A pocket park will, however, satisfy demand to a certain extent. Where possible, these parks can be incorporated into the parks and recreation system. In deficient neighborhoods served only by pocket parks, additional lands will need to be acquired to provide a true neighborhood park. Pocket parks were included with neighborhood parks to develop the neighborhood park LOS.

The basic building block of the parks classification system is the neighborhood. A neighborhood park serves an area recognizable as a discrete neighborhood, or in some cases, a group of smaller neighborhoods. The service area should be bounded by barriers to access, such as arterial streets, terrain, or the Santa Fe Railroad. Because neighborhood parks focus on a neighborhood setting, off-street parking should generally not be provided. A neighborhood park would comprise a minimum of 8.0 acres.

Community parks serve a group of neighborhoods which comprise a recognizable section of town such as West Flagstaff or Country Club. Examples include Bushmaster Park and Foxglenn Park. Community parks provide larger scale recreation opportunities, including multi-purpose field sports complexes, group picnic ramadas, and larger playgrounds. Because they attract larger numbers of users from more distant locations, off-street parking should be provided. Community parks should comprise a minimum of 25.0 acres.

City-wide parks provide a setting for more specialized recreation facilities used by the entire community. Examples include soccer field complexes, baseball/softball complexes, and large group facilities. City- wide parks should be located adjacent to arterial streets, and offer connections to major non-vehicular transportation corridors. Certain elements of smaller parks classifications can be incorporated into a city- wide park. Based on the actual facilities provided, a city-wide park should comprise approximately 75.0 acres. Thorpe Park and Buffalo/McPherson Park currently serve as city-wide parks.

Special purpose facilities are parks set aside for a single, specific use. These would range from recreation centers and Little League complexes to a swimming pool complex, a multi-purpose indoor/outdoor recreation center, or similar facility. McPherson Park, with the Jay Lively Activity Center, is the closest existing example of a special purpose park. Exact acreage requirements would depend on the nature of the specific facility and its space requirements. For the purposes of the LOS, a size standard of 25.0 acres was established for this classification.

Typical recreation activities for each parks classification were developed based on data from the survey, and facilities typically provided in existing parks in Flagstaff. Facilities listed are for the purposes of establishing the LOS, and are not necessarily actual facility menus for each parks classification. Actual facilities provided would depend on actual needs.

Size standards were applied to each facility listed in order to determine the overall area required for each type of park. For the purposes of the RAM, open space was identified to be one-half of the overall acreage for each park. This is consistent-with the results of the Public Opinion Survey and Public Forums. The exact acreage of open space within each park will be a function of site conditions and neighborhood/community recreational needs. Facilities included in open space include picnic tables, benches, exercise trails, grassed areas for informal play, and natural areas.

Recreation Activity Menus

Neighborhood Park  
Activity Space Required (Ac.)
Playground 0.20
Volleyball Court 0.10
Double Tennis Court 0.40
Basketball/Multi-Purpose Courts (2) 0.40
Soccer/Multi-purpose Field 2.50
Subtotal 3.60
Open Space (= Total Acreage of activity areas above) 3.60
Total Acreage (rounded) 8.00


Community Park  
Activity Space Required (Ac.)
Playground 0.40
Volleyball Court 0.10
Double Tennis Court 0.40
Basketball/Multi-Purpose Courts (2) 0.40
Soccer/Multi-purpose Field 2.00
Group Ramada’s (4) 0.10
Baseball/Softball Complex (2 Fields) 7.50
Rest Room Facility 0.10
Parking (50 cars) 0.40
Subtotal 11.40
Open Space (= Total Acreage of activity areas above) 11.40
Total Acreage (rounded) 25.00


City-wide Park  
Activity Space Required (Ac.)
Playground (2 at 0.50 ac.) 1.00
Volleyball Court (4) 0.40
Double Tennis Court (2) 0.70
Basketball/Multi-Purpose Courts (2) 0.80
Soccer Fields (2) 4.00
Group Ramada’s (4) 0.20
Baseball/Softball Complex (4 Fields) 15.00
Rest Room Facility 0.10
Parking (100 cars) 1.00
Special Use Facility 10.00
Subtotal 33.20
Open Space (= Total Acreage of activity areas above) 33.20
Total Acreage (rounded) 70.00

Level of Service Calculations

Having identified the classifications and space requirements for the recreation facilities, the LOS can be calculated. The following steps comprise this process:

1.Determine the present supply of these recreation activity choices;

2. Determine the total expressed demand for those recreation activity choices;

3. Determine the MPSR for these recreation activity choices;

4.Determine the individual LOS for each park classification; and

5. Determine the collective LOS for the entire park and recreation system.

Recreation Supply

The purpose of determining the present supply of recreation choices is to measure facility use as it actually occurs. This reflects the amount of recreation supply, measured in visits per year, that is provided by a typical recreation facility such as a playground or soccer field. Recreation Supply is a true measure of the availability of facilities.

Average daily use and peak use can be determined through attendance records or direct observation. Each is expressed in terms of the percentage of available time during which each level of use occurs. Regardless of how average daily use and peak use are determined, it is important that the number of visits per day and related proportional time used reflect the actual use, and not an optimal level of use. Expected Use is a combination of average daily use and peak use.

Availability is the number of days per year that a facility is open, functional, and available for use. A park facility may be unavailable due to weather, maintenance, holidays or other reasons. In Flagstaff, certain facilities may have limited availability due to weather, including outdoor pools, snow play facilities, and playing fields. Recreation Supply typically measures use as it actually occurs; however, special capacity guidelines are sometimes established to mitigate existing factors such as overuse and public safety.

Recreation Demand

Recreation Demand is determined by assessing the number of times someone actually participates in a recreation activity. Several factors must be considered when determining recreation demand. First, it is important to understand who the users are. Is the demand generated primarily by residents? Or is the demand being enhanced by non-residents? Second, how accurate is the data on frequency of participation? In the Public Opinion Survey, the year/month/day participation log approach was used to gain data in numbers of participants in various recreational activities. Third, latent demand data should be factored in based on data extracted from the survey. Latent demand is a factor in determining whether an agency can increase use by reducing the barriers to participation.

Although there are different ways to measure recreation participation and participation frequency, a simple method is to categorize a park and recreation visitor as an occasional participant (minimum one visit per year), a moderate participant (minimum one visit per month or 12 visits per year) or a frequent participant (minimum one visit per week or 52 visits per year). These categories represent minimum levels of use rather than the exact level of use. This is treated as a minimum because it is more accurate to describe minimum levels of participation than actual visit occasions. Actual participation is referred to as expressed demand. Latent demand expresses what the sample population has identified as recreation opportunities in which they would participate if the opportunity was available in the recreation supply.

Minimum Population Service Requirements

This represents the minimum number of people served per year for each activity area and facility supply unit, i.e., playground, tennis court, or soccer field. The Minimum Population Service Requirement (MPSR) is derived by dividing the calculated Recreation Supply by the Recreation Demand figures.

Park Classification LOS

The needs-based determination of the LOS for each park classification requires that Minimum Population Service Requirements be calculated for each activity, area or facility on the Recreation Activity Menu for each park classification. The sum of people served by each activity in each park classification is the total population served by that park classification. The average requirement for the parks classification is divided by the population served to identify the LOS.

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