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Va. firm to conduct community survey for rec district

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By Vicky Gits

The Evergreen Park and Recreation District on Dec. 8 approved the selection of Responsive Management Inc. of Harrisonburg, Va., to conduct a district-wide telephone-based community survey in 2010.

Responsive Management is a survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues.

The study measuring customer needs and satisfaction is to be awarded immediately contingent on an interview and signed contract based on the proposal.

The purpose of the study is to assess customer needs and satisfaction and to gather opinions to gauge support for projects and services that may be pursued in the future.

With two recreation centers, two indoor swimming pools, 25 playing fields, the Lake House, boating, ice skating and hundreds of programs from yoga to special needs, the rec district is torn between numerous competing community needs.

Earlier this year, the board of directors authorized a study looking at the feasibility of a park-district-supported arts center in Buchanan Park. Economic Planning Systems Inc. of Denver and OZ Architecture worked on the study last summer and unveiled it in October.

Responsive Management won with a proposal costing $28,000, compared with the maximum $45,000 originally allocated, saving $17,000, which can go for other purposes. Sixteen proposals were received by the Sept. 9 deadline.

Responsive Management submitted “by far the best proposal,” with a score of 102 out of 110, based on the park district staff analysis, according to a Dec. 8 memo to the board of directors from park district executive director John Skeel. RM has 19 years of experience and uses an in-house team of 50 telephone interviewers. It has conducted more than 500 surveys nationwide.

Previous surveys have attempted to measure support for specific bond projects, such as land purchases, field construction or rec center renovations, before going into a bond election, said Allan Casey, president of the board of directors.

“I’m looking at this more as a customer satisfaction survey. We are asking people to tell what they think about all of our different services. … That will tell us where we can make improvements and what we should do more of,” Casey said. “We have never done a survey like this.”

Casey said he didn’t see the survey delving into the question of whether or not residents want the district to build an arts center.

“If we ever get to that point, it’s many years off. It’s going to take a bond issue, and it’s going to be four or five years. We’ll do a survey at that point. I’m not opposed to asking the question, but there are more relevant ones.”

The results of the customer survey are due in April.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.