Teenagers in the St. Clair R-XIII School District indicated a new swimming pool would be their top choice of things the city’s Parks and Recreation Board could look at providing in the future as members start putting together a comprehensive plan.
With the help of school district employees, students in the junior high and high school were sent a survey in March on behalf of the local park board ranking their preferences from a list of ideas provided by park board members.
The park board will use the information as it works on putting together its comprehensive plan throughout the year. The plan will target the future of St. Clair’s parks from a facility, activities and manpower standpoint.
Additional input from other sources also will be sought and included.
About 180 students responded to the survey.
“I am really happy about the response the park board survey received from the youth of St. Clair,” board President Linda Luetje-Nelson said.
About 27 percent of those youth stated a new swimming pool would be their preference from items included on a “wish list” on the park board’s radar. Forty percent listed a new pool as either their first or second choice.
However, 17 percent of the students who took the survey listed a pool as their last choice.
Improved and new recreation fields and additional festivals came in tied for second with 14 percent of No. 1 votes.
At the bottom of the teenagers’ combined list was improved and/or expanded playground facilities.
The park board has put together a long-range planning committee charged to compile a comprehensive plan targeting the city’s two main parks — Orchard and Evergreen. The group currently meets monthly and has identified at least five areas to include in the lone-range plan — personnel, revenue, facilities and programs, promotion and a “wish list.”
Under personnel, board members would like to establish two groups that will help them put together a plan of attack from a parks perspective. A Friends of the Park committee would be an advisory group consisting of adults who have a high interest in improving the city’s parks. A junior park board would be comprised of teenagers who have the same interest and passion.
In addition, future personnel could include any employees needed when the time comes for the parks to offer programming and supervised activities.
Students who completed the survey also were asked if they would be interested in serving on a junior park board. Several expressed an interest.
“There are a lot of talented kids with good ideas,” Luetje-Nelson said. “Our goal is to get them excited about the parks. We are hoping to entice them into participating in the civic process so they can gain experience and knowledge of the community government while working toward goals they wanted in their parks.”
Other items on the survey list were a skate park, dog park, expanding the spray park, improved and expanded walking/running trails and a disc golf course.
A nine-hole disc golf course currently is being built on land on the southeast side of Evergreen Park. Board members are hoping the facility will open around Memorial Day, which is also when the spray park will open for its second year.
The disc golf course, dog park, skate park and improved trails were ranked almost evenly as far as priority items for students who answered the survey. Expanding the spray park finished slightly lower than those others but higher than expanding playground facilities.
There is some “student error” in the survey, school officials said. That means a student could have listed more than one of the items as a top choice. That skews some of the percentages, but does not affect the priority rankings.
The student survey will be presented to park board members on Monday when they meet at 6 p.m. in city hall for their April meeting.