What do Salt Lake County residents want when it comes to parks and recreation?
Hiking trails? Disc golf courses? Community gardens? Youth programs? Day care facilities?
County parks and recreation division officials hope to pin down answers to these questions through surveys mailed recently to 20,000 residents.
"One of our main goals of this survey is to learn," said division spokesman Martin Jensen. "Are we providing the right amenity in the right place? Are we providing enough programs and where you want them?"
He told the County Council recently that the nine-page questionnaire, which takes about 15 minutes to fill out, was designed with help from the University of Utah and Utah State University.
Recipients were selected randomly, Jensen said, but efforts were made to distribute them proportionately to all county ZIP codes and to obtain the opinions of renters as well as homeowners.
About 700 of the 20,000 surveys need to be returned to have a statistically valid sample, he added.
"The time you invest in completing the survey will aid Salt Lake County in making decisions that will enrich the future of our community and positively affect the lives of its residents," said County Mayor Peter Corroon in his cover letter.
Residents are asked to rate the importance of park amenities, various types of sports and recreation, the quality of rec programs for youths and adults, and other programs such as farmers' markets, activities for people with disabilities and pet-oriented endeavors.
Sarah Bennett, who represents Emigration Canyon on the county's Open Space Trust Fund committee, said she was not aware of the survey but anticipates the results could help shape future attitudes about her personal preference trail development.
"Since open space and trails continue to be the No. 1 most requested expenditure of funds right next door in Summit County," she said, "you'd think they would at least give it passing consideration here in Salt Lake County."
Tapping into thoughts like those is the survey goal, said Jensen, adding "it all comes down to quality of life. If you have parks, if you have trails and recreational opportunities, these all help us deal with the day-to-day stresses of life."
"The ability to go outside for a stroll with a loved one in a park, or to play basketball in a men's recreational league," he added, "helps us find balance in our lives and makes our communities better."
Having these facilities and programs also assists economic development, he noted, contending corporations looking to relocate operations often consider park acreage, miles of trails and number of recreation centers in determining where to move their employees.
The survey received praise from County Council Chairman David Wilde.
"We have limited money and we want to know what our citizens want," he said. "We ought to do this with everything we do find out what residents want instead of deciding for them."
County officials hope to tabulate responses and begin analyzing data in early April. Survey results will be shared with municipalities in the Salt Lake Valley.
A "needs assessment survey" has been distributed to 20,000 homes seeking Salt Lake County residents' thoughts on parks and recreation