City recreation has undergone significant changes in just the last couple months, with a new director on board, revamp projects under construction and a master plan for Royal Lane also in development.
The importance of public involvement throughout the process has been identified as key by city officials, and a city recreation survey remains available so feedback on the future of Clinton’s program can be received. Public forums are also in the works.
For the last couple months, city officials have encouraged citizens to provide input about what they consider important for recreation and parks in Clinton. In reaching out to the public, a survey has been made available online, as well as in hard copy at the Recreation Office at Royal Lane, the Bellamy Center and the Sampson Center.
Assistant city manager Shawn Purvis said the survey has already received a great deal of interest, and is still available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/753367F. Citizens can also request a survey by calling the Recreation & Parks Department at 910-299-4906.
“We’ve handed out a lot,” Purvis said this week.
The assistant city manager said the survey is another way to gauge public opinion of recreation, while taking necessary steps toward building a solid Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant application to fund local projects.
“We’re trying to get (the survey) out there and get as much participation as we can,” said Purvis. “We’ll run the survey for a little longer.”
While the focus of the survey is around Royal Lane Park, whose facilities are several decades old, such grant funding could assist various aspects of citywide recreation.
“We applied for a couple of PARTF grants in the past, but haven’t received them,” said Purvis. “A significant grant would go a long way.”
New city recreation director Jonathan Allen was hired in November and began in that capacity last month. The city’s managerial staff has cited youth athletics as a focus of the local recreation department going forward, and has dedicated time toward reconfiguring a few of the ball fields in order to get them in line with Little League regulations.
Public input on the future of the city’s recreation program was solicited at a forum in September and Purvis said similar forums will be held in the near future. While youth athletics has been identified as a primary focus, city officials said what the public is able to get from its rec program is entirely up to them.
That is where the survey comes in, and city officials said the more responses received as a complement to the PARTF grant application, the better. Consultant engineering firm Withers & Ravenel is assisting the city with conducting the survey, as well as coordinating future forums and designing plans for implementation.
An exact closing date for the online survey has to be set with the firm and the exact numbers of respondents is not yet known, said Purvis. However, early indications are that the survey has received a great deal of response.
“I know I’ve handed out a ton of them,” said Purvis. “I hope all those people turn them back in. The more we have, the better. We’d love as much participation as possible. It’s still online at this point, and they can still pick them up anywhere if they want at this point.”
In the 14-question survey, residents are posed questions about which city recreation facilities they visit most, what mode of transportation they used to get there and what kind of recreation activities or sports they engaged in at those facilities. Additionally, residents are asked to rate their interest in the gamut of sports, events and activities, from nature walks and picnicking to fitness-related classes, bicycling, walking trails and outdoor performances.
Residents are also asked to identify the existing facilities they believe are in need of attention, as well as the new facilities that should be added. The survey also asks residents to list what the city needs more of, whether it is parks, park land acquisition, trails, sports fields or community centers, some combination of those or any other need specified by the respondent.
In conclusion, the survey asks residents how satisfied they are with the city’s parks and recreation services overall, then solicits any additional comments about the Clinton Recreation Department and its facilities they feel were not addressed in the survey.
That opportunity will also come around with upcoming forums. While no dates have been set, they will be on tap for later this year. “We will have a couple forums coming up,” said Purvis. “That’s what we’re trying to schedule, and we’re working with Withers to do that.”
For more information about the survey, contact the Recreation & Parks Department at 910-299-4906.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.