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City parks and recreation department wants feedback

August 6, 2018

The City of Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department is seeking feedback from the public on what people would like to see at the city’s parks and has started a survey to garner such information.

With nearly 38 parks in the city — including plazas — the parks and recreation department wants members of the community to tell it what they want at the parks, what the department is doing right and how it can make improvements.

“The mission of the Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department is to directly contribute to the City’s quality of life by providing exceptional programs, facilities, parks and trails while celebrating and preserving the community’s natural and cultural heritage.

We want to find out “how we are doing on customer service, how did they hear about us, how can we reach out them and better serve our customers,” said Damaris McGlone, parks director.

The survey pertains to parks, facilities and programs run by the city’s parks department.

Some of the questions on the survey include how often residents are at the park, which of the following park’s programs do they or their family participate in, what are important features for parks to have, and which district do people think needs more parks and trails, just to name a few.

The data collected could not only help with seeking additional funding for the city’s parks but also be used to see how each park is being utilized by the public and what improvements can be made.

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, local parks create “crucial health and wellness opportunities for all populations in communities across the country.” Officials said health improvements can be seen in areas where residents are able to walk to nearby parks.

“We are trying to really help with the obesity rate and diabetes rate of our residents of Brownsville. We really want to strive to have those health outcomes with parks that are equitable within the districts, equitable with access, and, of course, with amenities as well.,” she said.

The NRPA states:

>>Older adults engage in more than 3.5 times more physical activity in parks with walking loops

>>People who use parks and open spaces are three times more likely to achieve the recommended physical activity

>>Children in summer camps at parks and recreation sites report a 20 percent increase in fruit/vegetable knowledge.

>>73 percent of adults believe parks, trails and open spaces are an essential part of the health care system.

While the 14th plaza in downtown Brownsville doesn’t have room to include a playground area, Washington Park on East Madison Street is large enough that changes could be made.

“Depending on feedback of what the community’s desire to use for Washington Park, that could very well much play into how we do future designs or if they want other amenities downtown or in other areas of the city,” McGlone said.

The parks director said there are other parks in the cities that are not completed or haven’t quite been developed yet, and officials want to know “what the community wants and where do they want it.”

Parks department employees worked part of the last year and several months of this year to put together the survey so it could be distributed. The survey is not only available online but at several parks themselves.

“A lot of people complain that they don’t hear about what we are offering and what we are doing, or they didn’t know or they find out afterwards, so we are trying to find out what is the best way to reach out to people,” she said.

McGlone said there are no plans to take the survey down from the city’s website because officials want to receive as much feedback as they can from community members.

“By providing these surveys, that is the way of measuring how we are meeting our mission, which is something that we want to do,” McGlone said.

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com