People who use city parks want to preserve land, have more community involvement and cut staff salaries and overtime pay, according to a new survey released by the Neighborhood Parks Council at a town hall meeting in SOMA on Saturday.
Vowing to “accept the survey in the constructive spirit with which it was intended,” Recreation and Park Department General Manager Philip Ginsburg said he hoped the survey would improve the dialogue between park users and the city.
More than 1,400 people responded to the survey, which asked questions about issues ranging from crime to budgets to the parks department’s responsiveness. Here are some key findings:
- Users would like to raise money via amenities like bike rentals (91.8%) and neighborhood events (89.3 %).
- The city got middling marks for its efforts to address complaints. Only 54.6 percent of people who reported a problem were satisfied by the department’s response, while 45.5 percent were not.
- Respondents opposed the option to sell parkland to generate revenue (90%), but supported seeking a foundation or corporation to sponsor a park or recreation facility (85.6%).
- In a write-in question asking respondents to list three things they would cut from the budget, 48.5 percent said they would cut high salaries and overtime pay and 35.4 percent said they would cut new parks and construction projects.
The city department also outlined its own budget and staffing woes in the introduction to the report. “We’ve been asked to cut $43 million, including an unprecedented $12.4 million for the current fiscal year,” wrote Ginsburg.
Before the survey results were announced, meeting participants broke into small groups to discuss their park concerns with parks department staff.
Rasa Moss asked why a recreation building in the Excelsior stood locked and empty. “Build it and they will come, but not if it is closed,” she said.
One man raised concerns about off-leash dogs chasing playing children. Others were concerned with preserving native and nonnative habitat in parks, making sure all communities are being represented and wanting a better dialogue between the city and the community that uses the parks.
Read the whole report here.