Thursday, May 28, 2020

Oro Valley's Parks and Recreation Random Survey Missed The Mark

Last week, The Oro Valley Town Council held a special session to review to Phase 1 Parks and Recreation Master Plan study. This session was dedicated to understanding and asking questions regarding the study we reported last week. This study focussed on what residents say they want.

Mike Svetz, project leader for Pros Consulting, the firm retained to do this study, emphasized that the goal is to develop master plan that is “realistic, implementable and financially sustainable. Anything that you build has life cycles to them… need to insure that you have the operating and maintenance dollars to maintain and replace things as they age. The plan needs to consider both the short term investment and the ongoing cost.

Svetz observed that the town should develop a plan  that meets the needs of all residents, not simply the needs of one dominant population segment. In Oro Valley, that would be senior and retirees.

Svetz: People don't know what we have
The study of wants highlighted paths and walking trails as a must investment. Svetz stated that these were not new trails, but the upkeep of exiting trials plus the creation of some loop trails in park areas. Council Person Solomon observed the the town has 54 trail miles. He wondered if residents knew that. Svetz stated that they did not know but he had not basis for this statement. The study did not "test" people on their knowledge of what Oro Valley has. It asked only what they wanted.

The devil is in the detail and the detail is missing
Responses specific to location
Council Person Barrett wants more detail of information by area of the town. For example, the stated need that town needs more restroom facilities most certainly does not apply to the town's parks. Each has restrooms. However, the many HOA parks don't. Those would be the responsibility of the HOA and not the town. Thus, the need for more restrooms is not a town challenge.
The bathroom puzzle
While the study is able to segment results by age group it is not able to do it by geographic location. According to Svetz, the statistically valid survey, a survey of xxx people, was geographically representative of the town's population locations, but Pros Consulting never associated a response with the geography. Thus, the study does not tell what people in, say Rancho Vistoso want versus what people in the original section of Oro Valley want. This seems like a very significant oversight on the part of the town and study designers. Barrett wants that information so the "the town can invest strategically."
What kids want
Mayor Winfield observed that detail is needed regarding what Oro Valley's kids want. The survey did not include them, It included their parents who, according to Svetz, were supposed to respond to questions with the whole family in mind.  This really is not a valid gauge even though Svetz plans to provide responses based on family demographics. Given the methodology, we now understand why Baskeball Courts (Oro Valley has one) or new fields, items that were important in the last survey of 2014, suddenly dropped to low priority. Youth baseball and little league, a big concern a few years ago, fell of the chart. Other then refurbishing four of the five fields at Kreigh Park, nothing has been done. Pickleball Courts, on the other hand, jumped from the bottom in 2014 to near top. This, after the town has added pickleball facilities.

Town on its own?
The town plans to reduce the use of an external consultant in completing the master plan, spending no more than $30,000. According to Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director Krisy Diaz-Trahan, "We have a meeting with Mr. Svetz scheduled to determine where the greatest talent pool exists" to do each one of the remaining steps to complete the master plan.