Pendleton residents love their parks.
That was one of the main takeaways from a city survey about residents’ opinions and attitudes toward the Pendleton parks and recreation system.
The survey was conducted by Campbell DeLong Solutions Inc., a Portland polling and research firm, and was based off of a sample of 485 people, although the respondents skewed female, over 40 years old and toward homeowners.
The survey concluded that 99 percent of respondents have visited either a park or a department facility like the Pendleton Aquatic Center, Olney Cemetery, or the Vert Auditorium.
When the survey takers visited parks, they generally felt like the facilities were well taken care of and had the right amount of amenities, with 88 percent rating those qualities as “excellent” or “good.”
The top-rated facility was the aquatic center, which scored a 95 percent “good” and “excellent” rating in the maintenance category while 96 percent thought it had the right amount of amenities.
While parks and rec facilities were generally well rated, the parks system was more varied.
In terms of the right amount of amenities, Brownfield Park is the most highly rated park in the system, followed by Community, Pioneer, and Grecian Heights parks.
But Community Park is by the far most popular park in the system, with 66 percent reporting visiting it in the past year.
On a cloudy Thursday afternoon, the various people walking the paths, using the playground or playing the disc golf course seemed to reflect the popular feeling.
Samantha Brown was walking down the path toward the baseball fields as she pushed her 2-year-old daughter Aislyn in a stroller with 4-year-old Autumn in tow.
Brown said she often brings her kids to the park, where it’s grassy, flat, and contains easy sight lines.
“I don’t do too well on hills,” she joked as her daughters started chanting the word “grassy.”
Over on the east side, Ralph Noy sat on the base of a slide as his wife Carol chased around their 3-year-old granddaughter, Paisley.
Noy remembered when it was an undeveloped wooded area where he would go to fish along McKay Creek, and although he hasn’t been to Community Park often since it was developed, he felt that its playground equipment was better suited for his grandchildren than Rice-Blakey Park, which is closer to his home.
Not every park is as beloved as Community Park.
Only about 50 percent of respondents felt like Aldrich Park had the right amount of amenities.
Other parks with low amenity scores included the Let’Er Bark Dog Park, May Park, and Airport Park, although so few people visited the latter two parks the sample size only ranged from five to 18 patrons.
As short-term fixes, Campbell DeLong suggested addressing survey complaints by adding fencing to Let’Er Bark, and adding or upgrading amenities at May and Aldrich parks.
The survey also presented some more ambitious ideas that were polled among the respondents.
When asked what programs, activities or enhancements the survey takers wanted to see, 52 percent said it was “very important” to have after-school programs for elementary school children. Pluralities also considered it very important to cover the 50-meter pool at the aquatic center, more bicycle and walking paths for getting around the community, and affordable, year-round preschool and daycare.
Among the written comments, building a splash pad for toddlers would be a welcome addition to the parks.
Back at Community Park, Noy said he would like to see more playgrounds geared toward younger children in more parks.
Brown said she would like to see more parks — period — because the green spaces provided a nice contrast to the tans and beiges that usually characterize the Pendleton summer color palette.
Campbell DeLong presented their findings to the council on Tuesday, prompting Councilor Paul Chalmers to ask if they polled respondents on how these new programs and facilities would be paid for.
While adding those kind of questions was debated, John Campbell, the Campbell DeLong director of training, planning, and assessment, said it was better to do a separate survey asking respondents what programs and facilities they would prefer to pay for.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.