Two key sets of findings from the Parks Facilities Survey

During this past week, staff has delved deeper into results of the statistically-valid Parks Facilities Survey we discussed in our last post. Because of the detail involved, it is important for everyone to understand all aspects of the data. This week we’ll explore two sets of the survey findings: how many years respondents have lived in Merriam; and the value residents place on having a community recreation center in Merriam.

First, the number of years respondents have lived in Merriam was quantified using two different variables. First, by age only, then by households with and without children. Here are the results:

Under 35

72% have lived in Merriam
less than 10 years

Age 35-44

64% have lived in Merriam
less than 10 years

Age 55-64

58% have lived in Merriam 11
– 30 years

Age 45 – 65

64% have lived in Merriam 11
– 30 years

Over 65

74% have lived in Merriam over 21 years

These two breakdowns indicate that people choose to live or move to Merriam to raise their family, then choose to stay here as “empty nesters.” This information, when compared to city household demographics, breaks down the following way:

Age of People in Household

Percentage of Population

Under age 10


Age 10 – 19


Age 20 – 34


Age 35 – 44


Age 45 – 65


Over age 65


These numbers are significant when trying to determine what amenities and programs are needed for various facilities. It will be important that whatever decision is made it will meet the needs of future generations.

The second question asked a series of value statements related to a community recreation center. There were five options to consider: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree. The three statements reviewed included:

  • It is valuable to me to have a community recreation center
  • I believe a community recreation center boosts property values
  • The City of Merriam needs a new community recreation center

The results of these questions by household revealed the following:

Value Statement

Household children

 under 10

Households children

10 – 19


20 – 54

no children

Households 55

no children

It is valuable to me to have a community recreation center.





I believe a community recreation center boosts property values.





The City of Merriam needs a new community recreation center.





In addition, staff reviewed responses of those that disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement. Those results were:

Value Statement

Household children

under 10

Households children

10 – 19


20 – 54

no children

Households 55

no children

It is valuable to me to have a community recreation center.





I believe a community recreation center boosts property values.





The City of Merriam needs a new community recreation center.





Results indicate that residents see value in recreation services and amenities in Merriam — both personally and in property values. It also shows support for a new community recreation center.

Staff will continue to review the survey information in the coming days and weeks, ensures that a resident-driven approach is taken to determine a long-term solution. Carefully reviewing the data and using the different data sets for review, will help staff make an informed and educated recommendation to City Council regarding the strategy for moving forward with our Parks and Recreation facilities.

Contact Parks & Recreation Director Anna Slocum with questions or to get additional information.

Survey results bring community needs into focus

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.

Key Findings
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.

View a presentation of the survey results

Read the full report of survey findings


Welcome to Merriam’s new Parks & Rec Facilities Master Plan blog!

Welcome to the first blog update about the Merriam Parks and Recreation Facility Master Plan. We’re glad that you are interested in the process and encourage all members of the community to remain informed about the project. Let’s start with some background on the issues we face:

The Irene B. French Community Center
The City of Merriam purchased what is now the Irene B. French Community Center (IBFCC) in 1988 for $285,000. Renovation began in 1989 and included updates to all mechanical systems; new floors, windows and doors; and work to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — including the addition of an elevator.

Total startup costs for IBFCC (purchase, repairs and upgrades) came to an estimated $2.3 million. The facility opened in February1990 and has been an active part of our community.

The Merriam Aquatic Center
The Merriam Aquatic Center (MAC) was built in 1985 and renovated in 1995. Traditionally, the life of a pool basin is anywhere between 30 – 40 years. This estimated life expectancy depends on many factors, including weather (freeze-thaw cycles and annual moisture play major roles).

Assessing conditions at the IBFCC and the MAC
Over the years, maintenance of aging infrastructure at both facilities has significantly increased. In spring 2014 a facility assessment was completed on the MAC by Larson and Associates. In the spring of 2015 a similar study was completed on the IBFCC. Findings from both studies revealed that across the board, systems are failing and repair costs are staggering.

Findings of the two studies led to the formation of a Steering Committee and the recommendation to undertake the Facility Master Plan process to identify what the community wants for its Parks & Rec facilities. Today, we are four months into the process of working with Pros Consulting to complete the study (after an in-depth selection process).

One of the major factors in the process is conducting a statistically valid survey. The survey has been completed and results are expected this week. These findings should provide more insight into which services and amenities the community would like, and if new facilities are warranted.

Once the final report is completed in December, recommendations will go before the Merriam City Council to decide how the city should proceed.

Thank you for your interest and continue to stay up-to-date by reading weekly updates to this blog.