Columbia Parks Well Liked, According to Survey

Ron Vine of the ETC Institute, a market research firm, presented the findings of a public survey on Columbia Parks and Recreation facilities and programs at the Columbia City Council’s annual retreat at the Lake of the Ozarks on Friday afternoon.

As it turns out, Columbia residents really like parks: 87 percent of Columbia households use parks on a yearly basis. The national benchmark is 72 percent. Vine offered the idea of trying to reach 93 percent usage here.

“You could spend millions and millions of dollars and not get to 93 percent,” said Vine.

The most frequently used facilities are trails for hiking and biking.

Forty-one percent of residents surveyed called the quality of the parks excellent. Vine said that number, too, is quite high.

Vine said the data suggests people believe Columbia has a good park system and now must work to maintain it.

Ice skating is one area in which people are dissatisfied: 11,000 households said their ice skating needs are less than 50 percent satisfied.

First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz noted, however, that only 7 percent of people listed ice skating among their top four desires.

The $15,000 survey did more than just say how much people liked parks. It also sought to determine preferences and community priorities that are important for guiding future park development and services. Sturtz is excited about the information, saying it provides a good road map for the parks department and guidance on how to persuade voters to renew the city’s parks sales tax. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood expects the council will place on the November ballot.

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2 Responses

  1. What ballot initiative?

    • The city’s one-eighth-cent sales tax for capital improvements to the park system is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The City Council must decide whether to ask voters in November to extend the tax. Voters first approved it in 2000, then extended it by five years in 2005.

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