The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 31, 2012

And the survey says ...

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The preliminary master parks plan seems to be tracking with the what Enid residents think, according to a parks survey by Management Learning Laboratories.

MLL worked on the survey with Howell & Vancuren Inc. to find what Enid residents wanted in local parks. The result, according to the city master plan, is a phased-in 10-year project estimated at $50 million. The jewel in the parks’ crown is a large community park at 30th and Randolph, which officials believe will help boost economic development on Enid’s east side.

Parks survey results

Officials used the survey to determine the master plan. While there may still be some adjustments to the plan, it generally follows what the residents have indicated they favor.

The master trail will be incorporated into the parks plan, which 73 percent of respondents said was important to very important. Fifty-one percent said they are not satisfied with the recreation opportunities they receive for their tax dollars, while 90 percent agree parks and recreation are essential services to the city and 63 percent agree the city parks need updating.

While 78 percent agree there is a need for activities for the whole family, 33 percent expressed a need for more athletic fields.

The plan calls for total change in the city parks system, taking away ball fields and other fields at South Government Springs Park and replacing them with other activities at that park. The ballfields would be included in the first phase of the new community park; adding improvements to nearly all neighborhood parks; separating some services; and providing administration for parks and recreation facilities in Enid. The survey showed support for administration and maintenance of the parks system.

One of the main features of the community features is a water park with a variety of attractions. Forty-five percent of respondents showed an aquatic center as important or very important in the survey. Swimming pools were important to 63 percent of respondents, with year-round swimming important or very important to 51 percent of those responding.

There is no word whether any of the swimming facilities will be open year-round. Denny Price Family YMCA has year-round swimming, and several board members were concerned the new facilities would compete with YMCA program.

 New ball fields also will be part of the community park, while the number of soccer fields and softball fields will be determined by community demand. The park also will include new youth football fields, tennis courts, a skate park and parking.

Sixty-four percent of those responding to the recreation interest expressed interest in sports and athletics, including baseball, soccer, basketball, football, tennis and golf, among others. New soccer fields would be installed to replace those moved from other locations, and to keep up with the growth of the sport, the plan stated.

An indoor community center will include basketball courts, a multipurpose center and a gymnasium. All parks, including the neighborhood parks, will be equipped with restrooms, which was important or very important to 80 percent of those surveyed.

The measure could be paid for in a number of ways, including an extension of a current general obligation bond issue that was passed for construction of bridges. That would fund $30 million of the project. The other $20 million would come from a five-year, half-cent sales tax. The complete parks plan, as proposed, would be a 10-year project.

“The G.O. bond extension of seven mills over 20 years would bring in $30 million. There are other funding opportunities that would require the support of the community,” City Managere Eric Benson said. “A very attractive option given the economic circumstances is an increase in sales tax.”

Adventure activities, aquatics, indoor fitness, special events and sports and athletics were among the top interests in the recreation survey. The No. 1 barrier to participation is cost, the survey said.

Fifty-two percent agreed with using a bond issue to help pay for the facilities program, while 49 percent favored sales taxes.

In the survey, the respondents also expressed a desire for after-school programs, an amphitheater (which is included in the plan) and bike trails. Seventy-six percent of those responding did not favor a BMX trail, although one is included.

Another 44 percent said boating opportunities were not important. Other desires included centrally located community center and emergency call buttons for parks. Sixty-four percent of respondents want emergency call buttons, which are included in the plan, although presently only on the trail system.

Fifty-five percent want a farmers market in a permanent location, 43 percent want a fine arts center, 54 percent want fishing ponds and 50 percent think landscaping is important. Nature trails are important to 54 percent of respondents, and parks for passive use are important or very important to 57 percent of those surveyed.

Shelters also were very important to a large majority (74 percent), and shelters, along with restrooms, are planned for all of the parks, including neighborhood parks. Sixty-three percent of the respondents want tobacco-free parks.

Trash cans are listed as very important and have been included in all park plans. Weed control also is on the preliminary parks plan and was approved by 84 percent of respondents.

The largest groups of those responding are between the ages of 45-64.