Residents give city of Kettering parks very high marks

Parks director says city provides “a tremendous array of services” for a city of 57,000 people

Resident survey results show high marks for a Kettering Parks department that accounts for 14.7% of city expenses, the third-highest area after police and fire.

Respondents of the first Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts (PRCA) commissioned poll in five years gave 90% or higher satisfaction ratings in service, facilities and value, results show.

PRCA consumes $12.34 million of Kettering’s $83.8 million in expenses this year, according to budget figures. Police ($18.6 million) and fire ($16.16 million) are the departments with the largest budgets.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman has said recreation adds to the city’s “quality of life” and likened it to a core service.

Kettering’s emphasis is reflected in survey results, which have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4%, PRCA Director Mary Beth O’Dell.

“We do provide a tremendous array of services … there’s very few agencies that have the depth of services — from arts and entertainment to recreation, to our park services and environmental education,” O’Dell said. “And we’re a town of 57,000.

“So, the number of people that we touch — based on the multiple ways that we can engage with you — is very high … (which) is why results are what they are,” she added. “In terms of core services … we’re not public safety. But we do provide a lot of those preventive services that keep people happy, healthy, socially connected.”

Kettering has 21 parks covering more than 350 acres, city records show. The department includes the Kettering Recreation Complex, Adventure Reef Water Park, the Charles Lathrem Senior Center, an ice arena, the Rosewood Arts Centre, the Habitat Environmental Education Center, Delco Park, Polen Farm and a host of other parks.

The survey included the Fraze Pavilion, which has a $6 million budget separate from the department, O’Dell said. The Fraze is the focus of a different survey now in progress, she added.

The parks survey, which had 797 respondents, was online from March 9-25 and May 31 to June 7, Kettering records show.

The city paid $14,000 for Burges and Burges Strategists of Cleveland to conduct the poll, which included three focus groups, O’Dell said.

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Results showed staff performance, helpfulness and knowledge was favored by more than 75% of respondents and is “something that we can look at to improve on,” O’Dell said.

The department needs to “find better ways to connect with our customers … improve those engagement opportunities and communication (and) marketing opportunities” and work to ensure “that the knowledge of our staff and instructors is more impactful,” she added.


SURVEY RESULTS

Nearly 800 respondents took a Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department survey this year. The results include:

•99% rated the PRCA’s overall service as good or higher, with 64% scoring it excellent.

•More than 90% were at least satisfied with its value, with 55% very satisfied.

•More than 90% were satisfied or very satisfied with its facilities.

•More than 80% were satisfied or very satisfied with its programming availability and variety.

•More than 75% were satisfied or very satisfied with staff performance, helpfulness and knowledge.

SOURCE: City of Kettering

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