Survey responses fewer than desired for master plan

Jan. 29, 2014 @ 05:43 PM

Participation in a survey on recreation, parks and greenway priorities by Vance County residents is low, with only 159 surveys completed as the deadline approaches.

The Henderson City Council expressed concern this week that the survey might fall short of representing what residents believe are the county’s recreational needs. The citizen input is an early step for a project to develop a recreation department master plan.

Among council members indicating doubt about the success of the survey was Garry Daeke, who said he didn’t see how 159 could be enough of a representation for a county of more than 45,000 people.

“Have you considered stretching out the timeline to get some more surveys in?” Daeke said. “I think getting a couple hundred more would be a whole lot better. The 159 doesn’t seem like a lot.”

Will Brooks, a planning specialist with the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, is under contract to lead the development of the plan. He said other localities have had very similar survey participation results.

“To be honest, I called several of those localities that have had similar surveys,” Brooks said.

Brooks acknowledged the survey participants amount to less than one half of one-percent of Vance County’s population.

Alan Gill, Henderson’s recreation director, said there is quality to the survey in that all of the school district zones are represented, even though by small numbers.

The survey does not ask for identity and address information, but includes a space to indicate school district.

“The paper copies I saw pretty much cover all areas of the county, from every school district,” Gill said. “That is definitely something we were looking for. If the results came from one or two districts, that would be a problem.”

Brooks noted the project to develop the master plan is on a schedule, with the next event being a community meeting to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Perry Memorial Library.

Gill said a Jan. 15 deadline for surveys was already extended to Friday.

“We may leave that open for a week into February,” Gill said. “The survey has to close out, though, and the project move forward with other steps.”

Gill did not know if survey copies would be available at the library event on Tuesday. Filling out a survey is quick, according to Gill.

“It really doesn’t take a long time to do, especially the online version,” Gill said. “It’s just a few minutes. Many people don’t want to take a little time to do that, though.”

Brooks and Gill said practically speaking, there has never been a master plan process to organize Vance County recreation needs, goals and strategies.

“The department has never had one,” Gill said. “An old plan was done by the city in the 1960s.”

“The older plan is quite antiquated,” Brooks said. “This is a new project, and it will carry forward to about 2030. About 15 years is what we find typical for how long a master plan will remain relevant.”

Brooks indicated a rough draft of the plan is slated for completion in the spring, with alterations expected. The Kerr-Tar contract runs out June 30, but a finalized plan document could be presented for adoption by the City Council and the county board of commissioners in late June or July.

The document will include historical, demographic and infrastructure inventory portions followed by need assessments, recommendations and priorities for development. The implementation plan is broken down by three five-year timeframes for development, plus a fourth time category set at 2029-on for future implementation priorities.

Sections are included for capital development, staffing, budget and revenue strategies.

The plan is believed to be pivotal for winning larger grant awards to fund implementation strategies. The document will become part of Henderson’s general fund capital improvement plan, or CIP.

The survey is accessible online through surveymonkey.com/s/hendersonvance and through a link at hendersonparks.weebly.com.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.