At the Sept. 22 Facilities Master Plan Steering Committee meeting, staff from Pros Consulting, SFS Architecture, ETC Institute, and consultants from Confluence presented findings from a statistically valid survey; proposals for a preliminary program plan; and an analysis of site configurations. When combined, this information will make up a majority of the Facilities Master Plan, slated to go before City Council in December. If Council adopts the Master Plan, work will begin to develop an Implementation Plan, which would include financing options and other considerations.
Right now, we’re still in the process of trying to determine what Merriam residents want for their Parks & Rec facilities, and recent survey results help to provide a greater understanding. We’ll look at some key findings in this post, but you are welcome to read the full report in the “Master Plan Documents” section of the Merriam website.
A statistically valid survey
The survey required 400 respondents to be considered statistically valid. We had 522 people complete and return the survey, ensuring a 95 percent confidence level with a /-4.3 percent margin of error — anything under 5 percent is considered valid.
Survey respondents represented an equal distribution of ages, length of Merriam residency, and gender (male/female). In addition, information related to race identification was consistent with current census data. The number of participants that voted in elections during the past two years was 85 percent. The cross-tabulated data was broken down into four categories: households with children under 10; households with children ages 10–19; households 20–54 with no children; and households 55 and older with no children.
Top Choices for Amenities
When asked which three items would be most important to include in the design of a new or redesigned aquatic center, respondents in each age group chose either the zero depth entry pool or lazy river. The next choices were mixed. Water slides was the third choice for households with children, but households without children want an outdoor pool with lap lanes. The fourth choice was a mix of spray pad, outdoor pool lap lanes, water slides and diving boards. An interesting fact from this question is that in all households with children, as well as those 20 – 54 without children, 87 percent indicated that at least one of the amenities should be included at the pool. This shows strong support for an aquatic center.
A similar question was asked in regards to a community center. All households chose an indoor jogging walking track as their first choice. The second choice for households with children 10 -19, and both categories of households without children was cardiovascular/fitness equipment, whereas those in households with children under age 10 selected the indoor leisure pool for their second choice.
A clear shift in priorities is evident further down the list. As with the aquatic center, the percentage of households selecting at least one item was extremely high, while households age 55 and older with no children were the lowest at 77 percent.
The last finding we’ll highlight pertains to support for different financing options. Two household categories chose a combination of a local sales tax increase, and an increase for local property taxes as a first choice. One household category chose a local sales tax increase, and one household category did not know or was not sure what they wanted. The second choice revealed the opposite result: two household categories chose the local sales tax increase; one household category selected the combination of sales tax and property tax; and the fourth household category didn’t choose either.
Consultants from ETC Institute provided the following summary of results:
- There’s strong support new aquatic features.
- Aquatic features rated as most desired are: a lazy river and zero depth entry.
- Residents want indoor recreation facilities and amenities.
- Top three priorities are: indoor track, fitness equipment, and indoor leisure pool.
- Compared to other priorities, development of improve indoor facilities was rated as the most important amenity.
- 43 percent of respondents in all household categories indicated they would use an aquatic facility with the amenities most important to them on a weekly basis.
- 51 percent of respondents in all household categories indicated they would use a community center with the amenities most important to them on a weekly basis.
Contact Parks and Recreation Director Anna Slocum with questions. And check this blog each week for more project updates.