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Thread: Including public school and homeowner association recreation facilities in facility inventory

  1. #1
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    Including public school and homeowner association recreation facilities in facility inventory

    As part of our comprehensive planning process, we are conducting a needs assessment of recreation facilities which involves an inventory of our existing facilities. The question of including facilities that are owned by homeowner associations and operated by our public school system has come up. Some say we should since they provide recreation, others say we should not since our residents do not have open access to them. Has anyone else run into this question? If so, what did you do and how did that work out? Some have suggested a sort of weighting scheme so these facilities could be included, but at a discount. Is there a reasonable basis for applying such a discount--for example, reducing the acreage of these facilities in the inventory by 20%?

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    You should include them in the inventory, but categorize them as "private/limited access." That will paint a more complete picture, and help you with future design/acquisition. For example, You might have four neighborhoods with HOAs that have swimming pools. As a result, you might be inclined to put a city-owned swimming pool somewhere else where residents do not have access to a private facility.

    Likewise, you want to include school facilities, because that might result in a recommendation that the City negotiate with them to open them to the public outside of school hours (lots of good research out there to back the positive impacts this has for communities).

    You can show totals for public acreage vs. private acreage, and the same for types of parks facilities.

    I would not recommend applying a "discount," because you then lose the benefit of knowing what is really out there regardless of ownership. Categorizing, on the other hand, allows you to analyze purely public lands, private facilities or a combination of both.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Ditto, my last city required new developments to build HOA maintained parks and amenities (because we didn't want to pay for maintenance ourselves). Since most everything was fairly new development we had a good system. When we did our rec plan update we mapped it by neighborhoods and indicated private and public recreation and the area they serve. We came out as something like 90% private, but all communities were served by a neighborhood park. We found one area that needed service by a community park and the older part of town needed an improved neighborhood park. Our goal was having convenient parks in every neighborhood. We didn't think so much in terms of public or private except when we tried to do a new one. Besides, the kid playing at the park really doesn't care and who is going to stop you from playing at a park, as long as your nice.

    Down side, organized recreation. Our city did their events at the public community parks built for the purpose. Our schools had their own programs (we didn't get along with our schools, they were viewed as competition by the parks director). Private organizations ended up using the private parks if there was a field. We didn't let the private groups use our fields either (competition). We were so bad about the competition thing that we ended up losing a YMCA because of it. Moral of the story, make sure your park system will handle ALL the recreation. People really don't care if it's provided by the city or someone else. Development agreements to allow shared recreation might be an idea.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for your very thoughtful replies. I agree we should include them as "private/limited access" and like the idea of exploring shared use agreements. We have also had some trouble with using school facilities in the past and I believe we will recommend reaching an agreement with our school system for improved access during non-school hours. I'll look into the research you mention--it might help us move forward.

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