City Releases Results of Parks and Recreation Survey
A statistical word cloud created using data from focus groups on Sheridan Parks and recreation.
Last week, consultants hired by the City of Sheridan publicly presented detailed qualitative data that will guide their recommendations to update the parks and recreation master plan.
In the Inner Circle at the Sheridan Fulmer Library, Jolene Rieck, owner of Peaks to Plains Design, and Michael Svetz of PROS Consulting reported and discussed the results of a household survey, community meetings, and focus groups conducted last fall regarding parks and recreation in Sheridan.
Rieck said the city is at a turning point in the process, and they will now start to craft specific recommendations for the next five to 10 years.
One major theme of those recommendations, Rieck said, will be the importance of park and facility maintenance. Not only does a proactive maintenance schedule sustain a healthy workforce, it also attracts people to the community, promotes mental health, and strengthens social networks.
Rieck explained that all of the park lands and assets were analyzed, on a park by park basis, and as a whole. They asked: Are there land or assets we can repurpose? Do any need to go away?
She stressed the importance of a realistic maintenance and replacement plan for the long term life cycle of the city’s parks, pointing out that other municipalities, such as Billings and Bozeman, Montana, have identified millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs in their park systems.
Although the household survey was originally only distributed to Sheridan County School District #2, it was expanded to SCSD#1 when it became clear that Dayton and Ranchester residents frequently used Sheridan parks.
“Sheridan is the hub of a small rural community,” Rieck said.
The focus groups, held in October and November of 2018, gathered people from demographics who make frequent use of parks and recreation assets: residents over 55, high school students, and sports participants.
From the focus groups and community meetings which were open to the general public, they teased out details of what the Sheridan community values, from lawns and open space to ice cream.
“I swear, the symbol for Sheridan should be an ice cream cone,” Rieck said. “I’ve never seen ice cream rank so high.”
Data from the focus groups and community meetings were then used to write the survey questions.
Svetz said it was important to use a statistically valid survey, the only scientific and defensible method to understand community needs. Their target, according to Svetz, was 300 completed surveys.
The survey, administered by mail, phone, and web, had a return rate between 25 and 35 percent, with a total of 439 surveys completed.
“That, in and of itself, screams that your community very much values parks and recreation,” he said.
To see the full results, click here.