Residents Tell City What They Want From Their Parks and Facilities

The Parks and Recreation Department's 'Our Parks Our Future' initiative is moving forward toward implementation.

Results of the city's Parks and Recreation Department's 'Our Parks Our Future' initiative, to help decide the future of the city's parks and recreational offerings. (Photo: Jennifer van der Kleut/Patch)
Results of the city's Parks and Recreation Department's 'Our Parks Our Future' initiative, to help decide the future of the city's parks and recreational offerings. (Photo: Jennifer van der Kleut/Patch)
At last week's meeting Fairfax City's Mayor and City Council heard a presentation from the Parks and Recreation Department (P&RD) and the consulting firm they've been working with on a plan for the future of the city's parks and recreational facilities and offerings.

The presentation included results of more than eight months of work by the P&RD to engage the community and find out what people like, and what they would love to see in the future.

Incredible Response

According to P&RD staff and consultants during the presentation last Tuesday, the response from the community was considerable—much more than anyone expected, or that has been seen in similar previous attempts to engage communities.

The staff attempted to reach city residents in a number of ways, including a special website that allowed residents to give feedback; a survey administered by George Mason University by mail to a random sampling of families, an online survey, and more than 20 stakeholder meetings and public workshops.

Staff shared numbers of how many residents participated in the various methods:

  • Stakeholder meetings/public workshops: 514 participants in total.

  • Mailed survey conducted by GMU: 668 responses (23% return), but those families represent more than 1,500 residents.

  • Online Survey: 128 responses.
  • Our Parks Our Future Website: Nearly 20,000 page views, 354 active users
  • Plus, the City received many letters and e-mails.

What Residents Had to Say

So, with all those responses, what did Fairfax City residents have to say?

First, the City attempted to engage residents about their overall feelings about what the city offers. In response, most people said they have a big sense of pride in Fairfax City's parks and recreational facilities, and that they use them quite often. 

They also gathered that people only hoped to see more of what they have, and improvements made—when it came to what, however, staff members said they amassed a "long and diverse list of wishes."

Staff members said, there were definitely several recurring themes and responses amongst all the feedback they received.

When it came to the city's parks, they said, undoubtedly, the most oft-mentioned item people wanted to see an improvement in were restrooms.

Also among the top five requests were more or better trails and drinking fountains.

Another frequently mentioned wish were more and better facilities for senior citizens.

What Happens Next?

P&RD staff said their next steps, now that they have evaluated eight months' worth of feedback from the community, was to start to develop a plan, and explore what the city's budget has to offer.

Staff said they still plan to have at least two more workshops, and that they hope to have a preliminary plan proposal to present to the mayor and council by July.

TELL US - What are your thoughts about the city's parks, facilities and recreational offerings? What would you most like to see in the new plan? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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