Residents happy with parks as they are
Farmington residents appear to be happy with the parks and trails they have, but uninterested in paying more taxes to expand their options.
The city's parks system got generally good marks on a resident survey conducted this summer. 74 percent of residents reported using the city's trail system and another 74 percent reported using neighborhood parks. Of the residents who have used the city's parks, 79 percent rated them either good or excellent.
"I think what we found is that trails and neighborhood parks are the most heavily used of our facilities," said parks and recreation director Randy Distad. "We get a lot of comments back about the trail system and how people like it. To me, it wasn't a real big surprise. It was just kind of nice to see that being reinforced in the survey.
"I think the way the responses came in, people are in favor of the direction we've gone with trails and parks."
The city of Farmington currently maintains 21 parks and 42.5 miles of trails.
Distad said he was somewhat surprised to see the reaction to the city's second-year farmer's market. 73 percent of residents who responded identified the farmer's market as the recreation program for which there is the greatest need, ahead of special events (41 percent), adult fitness (40 percent), youth sports (37 percent) and youth swimming lesson (31 percent).
"I guess I didn't realize people in the community, that they really had a need for this program," Distad said. "It's good that it fulfilled that need."
The city used the survey both to evaluate resident satisfaction with current park options and to judge whether residents would be willing to pay more to add new facilities. And while more than half of the residents who responded said they either would or might support a levy this fall, Distad said the consultant who conducted the survey recommended against it.
According to survey results, 66 percent of residents said they would be willing to pay more in taxes to fund new facilities. That includes 18 percent willing to pay $12 or more per month and another 18 percent willing to pay from $9 to $11.
Another 57 percent of residents said they would vote in favor of a referendum for new parks or new facilities.
Distad said he was happy with the results of the survey and particularly with the response. The city conducted the survey by mail and hoped to get at least 400 responses. It got those and more, with replies from 623 households.
"It's good to see that people are interested in parks and recreation and that they're willing to complete the survey," Distad said.