HELENA – Helena and Lewis and Clark County leaders are turning to the public for ideas about the future of their park systems.
The city and county are conducting a survey this month, asking residents how they use local parks and open space, and what they think can be improved.
“This is an opportunity to have a voice in the future of Parks and Recreation,” said Helena Parks and Recreation director Amy Teegarden.
The questions include how often people use parks and trails, what features and programs they want to see, what they feel is currently missing from the park systems and whether they would support additional funding mechanisms to pay for park costs.
3,500 randomly selected households will receive the survey. Leaders say the results from those responses will provide statistically valid information.
Starting June 15, other residents will be able to take the survey online. Those responses will be kept separate from the random sample, but leaders say they will also provide important feedback.
“Everyone’s participation is appreciated,” said Teegarden.
The city and county are both working with a consultant as they update their comprehensive parks plans. Teegarden said Helena’s plan hasn’t been fully revised in about 20 years, though the city did an in-house update ten years ago.
City leaders have already held a series of focus group meetings to get public input about parks.
“This survey is a follow-up based on what we heard at the focus group meetings, with some more specific questions,” Teegarden said.
Teegarden said the survey responses will be used as leaders complete the first phase of the parks plan revision – outlining overall goals for the systems.
“This is a vision for the future,” she said.
She said the first phase could be completed by mid-August. After that, they will move onto the second phase, which will include more specific initiatives and timelines.