In October 2006, the Payson Parks and Recreation Department launched a survey to collect the Rim Country community's input on Parks and Recreation priorities to better serve our population. As of December, all of the surveys have been tallied and summarized. On behalf of the entire Parks and Recreation Department, I would like to thank all of the citizens who spent time to respond with valuable feedback.
Who are these respondents? According to the tally, 46 percent of them were ages 50 and older, while the 30-49 year age category comprised 22 percent, only 1 percent were ages 20-29 and children 9 and under returned 20 percent of the surveys.
This was fairly representative of our Town demographics, age-wise, except for turnout from ages 20-29, which was disappointingly low.
Total numbers of surveys received was a low percentage of the Town population, as well -- 133 altogether out of approximately 13,000 residents, which equates to just about 1 percent of the town.
Although this number may not be statistically significant enough to assert the feedback received as representative of the entire town, it can still guide us in a general direction.
Most requested new programs: Additional senior activities (20 percent), children's music classes (16 percent), fitness walking (16 percent), additional trips/tours (11 percent), children's arts and crafts classes (11 percent), "other" (10 percent), teen nights (7 percent), youth theatre (6 percent) and after-school programs (3 percent).
New parks and recreation facilities identified as needed, ranked in order of popularity: Indoor pool (21 percent of votes), resurfaced tennis courts (20 percent), walking trails (19 percent), new tennis courts (8 percent), "other" (8 percent), covered rodeo grounds (7 percent) and new gym (6 percent), new playground (6 percent), wildlife habitat (4 percent) and additional all-weather turf (1 percent).
Most popular programs offered currently or in the recent past: Senior activities ranked first (35 percent), followed by tennis lessons (15 percent), youth soccer (15 percent), "other" (10 percent) and adult softball (7 percent). Other programs that ranked high as second choice priorities included girls softball, youth flag football and youth basketball.
In response to survey results, the Parks and Recreation staff has already begun introducing new and additional programs and services to meet the suggested needs and desires of the community.
Additional senior activities were listed as a high priority and we are responding by providing two senior trips early in Spring 2007 instead of one. Inaugural Kindermusik classes are being offered starting this January, in collaboration with Gila Community College, to fill the children's music classes niche. Fitness walking was another highly requested activity, as a result of which we have formed the T.O.P. Striders walking group, which will begin walking as a group twice a week from Green Valley Park that started Jan. 2.
Due to financial considerations, adding or revamping capital improvement projects in response to public input is always more difficult than introducing new programs. However, the Parks and Recreation Department has taken note of the overwhelming request for an indoor pool (21 percent), resurfaced tennis courts (20 percent) and walking trails (19 percent). We want to reassure residents that these rank high on our Parks and Recreation staff list of priorities, as well. Not only would these additions improve our quality of life in Town by providing increased, accessible venues for more year-round recreational opportunities, but they will enable us to draw more visitors to Payson, enhancing our local economy.
As of November 2006, the Payson Town Council gave its blessing to begin coordination and implementation of the Trails Master Plan.
This plan will eventually result in multi-use connecting trails in and around Payson town boundaries, providing a wonderful and accessible recreational network for all. With the coordination of several other Town Departments, recreational groups, Task Force members, the Town Council and other interested residents, fulfilling the survey request for more walking trails will become a reality.
We appreciate being able to serve Payson residents and look forward to survey results guiding us in greater things to come.
Our Winter/Spring 2007 brochures are currently available at the Parks and Recreation Office, 1000 W. Country Club, detailing upcoming sports, trips and special events.
Please feel free to call the Parks and Recreation Department at (928) 474-5242 ext. 7 if you have any comments or questions.