The need for public indoor recreation facilities to serve Kirkland’s growing population has been identified for many years, as early as 2001. Planning efforts first began in 2007, when The Sports Management Group completed a needs assessment, space program, and financial analysis for an indoor recreation facility. Further stages of planning were delayed until 2013, when the School District announced it would close the City’s only public indoor pool. The Sports Management Group, since that time, has worked with the City to study options for the pool’s replacement with a recreation and aquatics center -- the Aquatics, Recreation, and Community (ARC) Center. An ongoing public engagement process has proven valuable and shaped the project’s direction. A series of open houses were held in 2014 and 2015 to inform the community of the City’s planning efforts, and to invite feedback and questions. In Spring 2015, TSMG led a more comprehensive, multi-faceted Public Engagement Plan to gauge community interest. This included the launching of a virtual open house with project information, downloads, an online questionnaire, and project video. The video has been posted below to view.
The Engagement Plan also included hosting neighborhood association meetings and open house events; a direct mail piece to 40,000 Kirkland homes; a Textizen phone survey, which queried users about the project through smartphone texting; and a statistically valid telephone survey. TSMG led outreach implementation, with the design of print materials such as boards, flyers and handouts for the public events and the Textizen survey, in addition to the 4-page direct mail flyer. TSMG also coordinated the creation of the Virtual Open House, developing web copy and visual graphics, and worked with the client to finalize questions for the telephone survey.
The information that resulted from these sources showed a high level of support for the construction of the ARC Center; however, the recommended (City-owned) site for the ARC drew some resident concern. Data from the virtual open house was particularly insightful. Preliminary results showed 62.2% of open house respondents supported the City proceeding with plans to develop an aquatics, recreation, and community center. 50% also favored the recommended site option, although 30.1% desired a private property site. A similar response pattern came from the phone and Textizen surveys. This prompted City Council to authorize further search for site alternatives, with privately owned parcels in mind.Below: Sample results from Textizen
The City is now in the stages of seeking voter-approved funding for the project. Kirkland voters will decide on November 3rd whether to pass a measure that creates a metropolitan parks district for funding the ARC’s construction, the Kirkland Aquatics and Recreation District.
The Virtual Open House has remained open, and will be updated to provide the public factual information about the upcoming ballot measure. The site can be found at kirklandarc.publicmeeting.info. Additional information about the project and ballot measure can be found at kirklandwa.gov/kirklandarc.
Plan Before Design – A Case For The Park Programming Consultant
Do you need a Park Programming Consultant for your project? Let’s talk about what to expect from a park programming consultant and how a park programming consultant can contribute to the success of your project. With over 27 years of hands-on experience in park and recreation programming and planning, The Sports Management Group offers some thoughts on the value of including a park and recreation consultant on the project team.
The “right” park programming consultant, often identified as a recreation programming consultant, has a range of skills to put your project on the path to success. The recreation consultant is integral to the process of planning from the project’s inception; the park programming consultant works to establish key strategies that assess needs, engage the public, inform the design, forecast operations, maintenance costs, and revenues, and works with staff to develop plans for successful operations of the project.
Reasons For Choosing A Park Programming Consultant
Identify Park and Facility Needs Before Design
Programming and planning is vital prior to design of your facility or park. Assess your operational budget in tandem with the development of your park or facility space program to determine necessary staffing levels, and to create a program plan that will attract and satisfy participants, users, and members of the community, establish a customer base and, ultimately, increase revenues. This financial and programming planning will also help to foresee maintenance service levels in relation to the anticipated project. A park and recreation programming consultant can develop a detailed, line item operating budget and identify the revenue potential and cost recovery. This financial information informs decisions about what to build, how big, how to program the space and can you afford to own what you are considering building.
Guidance to the Design Team and Client
The path from initial planning, through design and ultimately, operations is often challenging, with many obstacles to overcome. A park programming consultant understands every facet of facility and park operations, and can offer guidance on a broad range of topics, including staffing needs, services and program offerings, and facility management. The consultant is also a resource to the design team on requirements related to recreation, the highest performance sport flooring or the electrical requirements for the cardio equipment.
Anticipating Recreation Trends
A park and recreation programmer stays abreast of the trends shaping park and recreation services and facilities. This knowledge is essential to serving current needs and creating facilities that can respond to changing needs. Generational trends (such as Baby Boomers and Millenials), issues relating to obesity and health, desired activities, and sustainability are some of the factors impacting the outcome of your project.
Understanding Your Market
Understanding your market and the market conditions, in which you offer services, is essential to good planning. A park and recreation programmer will perform a market analysis and a demographic analysis, to develop a community profile. By identifying the key characteristics of your population, a park and recreation programmer can project interest in various types of programs and activities. This important data helps to inform decisions about type and size of spaces, program development, fees and charges, and revenue potential.
Community Outreach and Public Engagement
An experienced programming consultant will also be skilled in public process, and can involve the community in the planning of your project in a seamless and informative manner. Community engagement and eventual ownership of the proposed development are key to a successful community project. Keeping it fun, engaging, and purposeful requires experience in all types of public settings from formal meetings to stakeholder interviews.
Competencies of Park Planning Consultant
Now that you have considered the value of a park and recreation programming consultant for your project, here are some of the skills and experience a park planning consultant should have:
- 10+ years of community recreation and park planning experience
- Facilitation skills
- Hands-on programming experience in the development and implementation of inclusive programs that meet community needs and interests
- Ability to evaluate and assess programs and space for optimal utilization
- Financial analysis skills necessary to develop reliable costs and revenue projections
- Proven success working with public park and recreation agencies
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Fitness and recreation centers, as well as fitness equipment manufacturers, are adapting. New weight equipment can be costly; rather than purchase the latest and greatest, fitness centers and gyms are creating versatile space for small group training and workouts that integrate equipment like TRX suspension trainers, ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, and resistance bands for enhanced exercise. This added choice in strength training will have future impact on rec and fitness center operations and design.
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The 147,000 sf center utilizes sustainable methods for energy efficiency, with solar thermal panels, an elaborate filtering system in the aquatic center, an HVAC chilled system and low-voltage lighting. The sate-of-the-art facility--offering NBA-sized basketball courts, aquatics center, game room, classrooms, computer lab, library, theater, fitness center, and more—is a valuable resource to the community of Phoenix South Mountain.
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The 25,000-square-foot LEED Silver project was commended not only for its design, but also for its significance to the surrounding community as a “beacon” and much needed resource. TSMG worked with the project architect, ELS Architecture and Urban Design, to provide services in programming, financial analysis, and public facilitation.
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