City rec survey reveals opinions

VERGENNES — One hundred-forty-four respondents to a Vergennes recreation survey showed strong support overall for parks and recreation, picked music and “overall wellness” as their top priorities for programming, and backed creating a part-time recreation director position.
The Vergennes City Council plans to use the survey and feedback at upcoming public meetings to help it decide how to spend recreation funds, and how much to spend, when it sits down to create the city’s next annual budget.
The city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, and aldermen will adopt a new budget and tax rate by the end of June.
The 10-question survey was handed out on Town Meeting Day and was available at City Hall and at the Vergennes.org website.
The first question asked respondents how important “the availability of local parks and recreation opportunities” were, and 83 percent checked off either “Very Important” (51 percent) or “Important” (32 percent).
Question 8 asked “If the City of Vergennes were to provide programs, please circle the three that would be most used by your household.”
Music led the way with 53 percent, followed by overall wellness (47 percent), theater (31 percent), educational (27 percent), environmental (22 percent), summer camps (19 percent), sports programming and arts/crafts (tied at 18 percent), swim lessons (17 percent), and before/after school, 15 percent.
Question 10 asked if aldermen should “consider hiring” a part-time recreation coordinator, to manage both facilities and programming. Sixty-one percent of respondents said yes, 24 percent said no, and 15 percent did not answer.
The question of funding new parks and opportunities, a “circle all that apply” question, showed mixed results.
User fees (69 percent yes, 13 percent no) and matching grants (81-5 percent in favor) were the most popular, but not all liked the ideas of a “limited increase in real estate taxes” (40-38 in favor), a 1 percent local option tax (38-36 percent in favor), or impact fees on new construction (42-24 percent in favor). Many respondents left answers blank to this question.
Other questions showed that 86 percent of respondents rated the condition of parks and facilities either good or average, and that the city green (89 percent), Falls Park on Otter Creek (70 percent), the city docks (44 percent) and the city pool and MacDonough Park and gateway stairs (39 percent each) were the most visited city facilities on an annual basis.
The most popular response to a question of how the city should divide recreation fund between physical improvements and programming was a 50-50 split (38 percent), but more respondents backed a 75-25 split favoring physical improvements (28 percent) than a 75-25 split favoring programming (19 percent).
The most popular times picked for programming were summer (51 percent) and weekends (42 percent).
Full survey results are available at vergennes.org. They may be accessed on the drop-down menu under “Government” by clicking on “Recreation.”
Aldermen at their March 31 meeting said they would be discussing the results at upcoming meetings. 

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