New Survey Results Show Manchester Parks & Facilities Needs

As a part of the Town’s collaboration with consulting company BerryDunn in the development of the new Parks & Facilities Master Plan, a survey was recently administered to Manchester residents by the ETC Institute. This marketing and research company collected results to report on and assess the needs of Manchester Parks and Recreation. The data from this assessment is meant to assist the Town in establishing community priorities for the future of local recreation facilities, programs, and services, culminating in the creation of the Parks & Facilities Master Plan. 

To conduct the research, the ETC Institute mailed survey packets to a random sample of households within Manchester and residents could either return the survey via mail or online. A total of 405 surveys were completed. The results of the survey are as follows:

Recreation Amenities and Facilities

The four most used major recreation amenities/facilities reported by residents were: Case Mountain (64%), Charter Oak Park (56%), Northwest Park (42%), and Center Springs Park (41%/). According to the survey, 98% of respondents are satisfied with Case Mountain and 97% of respondents are satisfied with Charter Oak Park. The respondents believe that the amenities/facilities that deserve the most attention from the Town in the coming years are Case Mountain, Center Springs Park, Globe Hallow, and the Community Y. 

This section of the survey helps Town officials narrow down the major facilities on which improvements should be focused in future years as well as where development should be targeted by the Master Plan.  

Town of Manchester Recreation Programs

Most residents who have participated in recreation programs rated the quality of the programs as either excellent or good. During the past 18 to 24 months, 28% of the respondent households have participated in recreation programs offered by the Town. Of those respondents, 50% participated in 2 to 3 programs. In terms of satisfaction, 96% of the respondents were satisfied with the location of programs, 95% were satisfied with the quality of instructors, and 95% were satisfied with the times offered. However, 17% of respondents are dissatisfied with the online registration process and with the ease of use of the website. 

Town Parks, Facility, and Program Items 

Around two-thirds of residents feel there are sufficient parks and green space areas within walking distance and use recreation programs and facilities provided by the Town of Manchester. The survey then asked how the residents learned about the Town recreation programs. According to the results, 40% learned through the Community Recreation brochure, 39% from friends and neighbors, and 36% from the Town magazine/Better Manchester Magazine. 

The preferred methods of communication for the respondents were email-blaster/Manchester Matters (45%), social media (33%), and the Town magazine/Better Manchester Magazine (33%). 

In addition, the ETC Institute asked respondents about potential reasons that prevent them or members of their household from using the parks, trails, recreation facilities, or programs offered by the Town. The top reasons indicated were lack of knowledge about what is being offered, lack of knowledge on the location of parks/facilities, and insufficient security/loitering. 

Potential Improvements to the Parks and Recreation System 

Overall, respondents showed a high level of support for the maintenance of existing parks, recreation facilities, fields, trails, and waterways. There is also strong support for the addition of new trails and the connection of existing trails. On the other hand, about a quarter of residents would not support the addition of new dog parks or the purchase of new land for new sports fields and courts. 

When asked about the funding of these potential improvements, 21% said they would pay an additional $10 or more per month, 21% said they would pay an additional $4 to $5 per month, and 22% would not pay anything additional. 

Facility Needs and Priorities 

The survey was also intended to assess how well the needs of the community are met by the Town’s facilities. The facilities with the highest percentage of households that have an unmet need were: restrooms, indoor running/walking tracks, indoor swimming pools, and natural parks and preserves. 

The ETC Institute also covered the importance that residents placed on each facility, in addition to assessing needs. The four most important facilities to respondents were walking and biking trails, natural parks and preserves, indoor swimming pools, and community centers/recreation centers.  

These results were then evaluated using the institute’s Priority Investment Rating (PIR) to determine the top five facilities rated as high priorities for investment. These included:

  1. Natural parks and preserves
  2. Walking and biking trails
  3. Restrooms
  4. Indoor running/walking tracks
  5. Indoor swimming pools

The PIR results convey to the Town which facilities should be prioritized in the future as the Parks and Facilities Master Plan is developed. 

Activity Needs and Priorities

In addition to the assessment of facility needs and priorities, respondents also answered questions relating to activity needs and priorities. The resulting PIR evaluation determined ten activities as high priorities for investment:

  1. Fitness and wellness 
  2. outdoor/adventure recreation 
  3. Nature enjoyment 
  4. Senior adult activities 
  5. Boating, kayaking, and canoeing 
  6. History and museums
  7. Yoga/Pilates/Zumba 
  8. Swimming 
  9. Adult sports 
  10. Performing arts 

The results from the ETC Institute’s survey collection and assessment are intended to assist the Town in the development and implementation of the new Parks & Facilities Master Plan. Participating in these surveys is one of the best ways to ensure your interests are considered and that your voice is heard in the Master Plan creation process.

To take this survey yourself and contribute to the growing community input, please visit the project page on the Your Voice Matters platform. This new community engagement platform provides a range of opportunities for input on Town developments, a great way to ensure your interests are considered in the future planning of Manchester. 

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