Wiseman discusses Winchester parks and rec compared to other communities

By Gary Wiseman
Bloom. When I hear the word bloom, I immediately think of renewal, growth, and change. It is also the name of the Winchester-Clark County strategic master plan for parks and open spaces. Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation is currently conducting a survey through BloomWinchester.com to obtain input on what our parks should look like in the future. Do we have enough park land? Are there improvements that could be made? Are the parks adequately funded? All input is important so that the master plan for the future is comprehensive.
I hope everyone will contribute their ideas and I would like to share some information the reader might find helpful as the master plan takes shape.
I recently received a copy of the Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Agency Performance Report. This report was compiled by the National Recreation and Parks Association and includes data from the years from 2018-2020. NRPA collects information from member parks and recreations departments across the country and provides comparison data of how individual parks and recreations departments are doing relative to others. NRPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, healthy, and resilient communities through parks and recreations. NRPA is a network of more than 60,000 park and recreation professionals and advocates representing public spaces in urban and rural communities across the country.
How does our own parks and recreations (WCCPR) compare to other parks and recreations departments? There are several data points that provide information that can be used to gauge how our own parks and recreations measure up to others in areas of efficiency, management, use of funds, and the amount of park land relative to the size of the population. The report gives us median data from all reporting parks and recreations as well as from parks and recreations that are relative to the size of the population of Winchester-Clark County.
• Standard One. Park-related operating expenditures per acre of parkland. This standard refers to the cost of operating the parks and recreation…. utilities, salaries, maintenance, etc. relative to the number or acres of parkland. For all agencies: $3,568. For similar size: $2,330. For WCCPR: $1,500.
• Standard Two. Operating expenditures per capita. Same information as Standard One, but based on the size of the population. For all agencies: $88.30. For similar size: $45.44. For WCCPR: $5.63.
• Standard Three. Revenue per capita. This standard refers to the money generated directly from the activities of the Parks and Recreation. Classes, programs, membership, fees, rentals, concessions, etc. (all non-tax sources) fall into this category. For all agencies: $19.38. For similar size: $8.72. For WCCPR: $2.13.
• Standard Four. Revenue as a percentage of operating expenditures. This standard indicates how much money the individual parks and recreation generates as a percentage of operating expenses—also called cost recovery. For all agencies: 22.9%. For similar size: 21.1%. For WCCPR: 37.9%.
• Standard Five. Tax expenditure per capita. This standard indicates how much tax money goes to the parks and recreation relative to size of the population. For all agencies: $63.75. For similar size: $31.24. For WCCPR: $3.49.
Another interesting section of the report is the acres of parkland per 1,000 population data that indicates the amount of parkland a community has available per 1,000 residents. For all agencies: 9.9 acres. For similar size: 9.2 acres. For WCCPR: 3.0 acres.
In summary, I was able to draw some quick conclusions. WCCPR does not receive a great deal of tax money and the money charged for memberships, rentals, etc., is low compared to other parks and recreations. In other words…a bargain. WCCPR is efficient, well-managed, and generates a significant amount of operating expenses on its own. Is there room for improvement? Sure. We do not have a lot of park land relative to the size of our community, and we could certainly make good use of additional tax monies to grow and improve. To their credit, the city and county governments are currently working on innovative ways to better fund and maintain the current parks in addition to paying the debt service on the pool at College Park.
For more detailed information or to obtain a full copy of the NPRA report, please contact Jeff Lewis at wccpr.Director@gmail.com or 859.744-9554. Or better yet…visit one of our local parks and help our community bloom.
Gary Wiseman is a retired school superintendent and a member of the Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Board.