Public weighs in on future of parks in Edmonds; still time to take the survey

Like fireflies on a summer night, comments lit up the computer screen:

“…second beach volleyball court”

“…more parks/green space along SR 99

“…more launch sites for kayaks and paddle boards”

“…mountain bike trail in Yost”

“…bathroom facilities at parks”

“…not enough activities for teenagers”

“…too much spent in the Bowl”

This was part of the brainstorming session of a virtual public meeting hosted Thursday night by the Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. They are asking residents to tell them what the future of parks, recreation facilities and open space should be. They call it the “PROS Plan.”

Once completed by the end of the year, the PROS plan will be used by the Edmonds City Council to approve changes and allocate the budget for those improvements or additions. The updated plan also keeps the city eligible for state funds.

The city is using polls to help narrow the choices for residents. Viewers were asked about the recreational programs, programs for children, community events, playgrounds and how they personally use the parks and recreation facilities and the various city-sponsored programs.

They have a total of 1,700 responses so far on the survey. The direct mail to households got an 18% response rate and other residents simply took the survey online.

Angie Feser

Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Culural Services Director Angie Feser promises to stick with it. “We will continue to promote the online survey, some in-person visits to the Uptown Market, the Summer Market and at Anderson Center,” she said. “Our Facebook page has the survey and, of course, the Parks and Recreation website is the easiest way to find the survey.”

Edmonds is not starting from scratch, given the impressive numbers in the city’s presentation. Already the city boasts 47 parks, with 230 acres of parks and open space, 13 sports fields and 18 sports courts, four-plus miles of trails, a pool, six beaches, a fishing pier, and 73,000 square feet of program space.

The Trust for Public Lands compiles data from around the country on parks, and their website could be helpful in painting a bigger snapshot. For example, 76% of Edmonds residents are within a 10-minute walk to a park; but in Kirkland, often compared to Edmonds, that number is 96%. Olympia is comparable, but has a greater percentage of land used for parks. It’s just a snapshot that doesn’t tell the whole story.

We have a mile of waterfront park you can walk down and touch Puget Sound. Thats a very different experience,” Feser points out.

So, the raw percentages do not reflect differences in amenities, types of parks or community events and activities offered in each city. Quality of the parks is not assessed, nor is whether you have to walk across a highway to get to a park.

The real question is how residents feel about their own parks and how they use them.

In the city’s survey so far, 99% said parks and recreation are essential. Of those, 83% say they use parks every month and a vast majority visit parks every week. These high numbers tell the city that parks and recreation are a very high priority in Edmonds.

Potential ideas for the new plan include improving existing parks, completing the waterfront walkway, expanding trail connections, and buying more open space.

A sample polling question is posted, below.

Potential ideas for the new plan include improving existing parks, completing the waterfront walkway, expanding trail connections, and buying more open space.

For Parks Director Angie Feser, this current assessment is a critical part of the process, “It is the city’s way of revisiting public priorities for parks, recreation and programs. It will give us a roadmap for the next 6 to 10 years. The work we do today may not take form for a decade.”

Reaching a wide audience is critical, she says, to get as much input as possible. That’s why the meeting was simultaneously translated, live, into three other languages: Spanish, Korean and Mandarin. This was a first for Edmonds. For those in attendance, on their computers, all they had to do was click on the language of their choice and they got clear, live, translations of every word.
See translation example below.

 

“We want to include all of our community and we recognize people in Edmonds speak Spanish, Mandarin and Korean and we want to include them.  We did a lot of written material in four languages, too,” said Feser.

At Thursday’s meeting, 17 residents were online with staff.  Feser isn’t swayed by the number, “We always want as many people as possible to attend, but it’s summer and people are on vacation, doing other activities and may be burned out on Zoom. It is just one way we collect information.”

After more polling and discussion, city staff hopes to present it to city council in the first part of 2022.

One observer said, “Everybody should pay attention to this. What people do today is not for us, necessarily, but for our children and grandchildren.”

You can offer your thoughts at edmondswa.gov or at edmondswa.gov/government/departments/parks_recreation_cultural_services

— By Mauri Shuler

7 Replies to “Public weighs in on future of parks in Edmonds; still time to take the survey”

  1. The city needs to make sure Edmonds two most important features are protected. The Underwater Park and the Marsh.

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  2. While I do appreciate that our city does so many surveys and now offers them in other languages, I do wonder who at the city is creating these- choosing the question structure, writing the questions, etc… I have found many of our surveys to be frustrating to complete because the questions and/or answer structure feels sloppy and incomplete. In some cases, the surveys feel like they are less interested in actual guidance and more interested in validating assumptions and pre-conceived ideas. The worst part is that the system they use to promote the surveys and also to collect responses does not efficiently target actual Edmonds residents NOR does it seem to have a way of preventing people from submitting multiple replies.

    I would love the city to consider hiring a consultant or agency to design or review all the surveys and find a more secure distribution platform. I appreciate that the city is now also using other methods of engagement, but the larger data numbers still seem to come from the surveys and can inaccurately be perceived as representing the desires of the community.

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    1. When I saw this it said while discussing parks before it said anything. ” Remember this will be paid for with you taxes… A deterrent before anything. I saw it immediately and thought WOW that was sneaky… And it probably did work on many. Disgusting. So scaring people into what YOU want Edmonds is the new way we do things to get what we want… and from the folks with the less money and plenty of taxes as it is… I am stunned once again.

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    2. Chris,

      While you and I are,.many times, are respectfully on opposite sides, you hit the nail on the head. The surveys seem to be biased towards validation versus opinion gathering. The City Planning group has an opinion, and it is loaded in their questions. Sort of like asking a person. How they would prefer to be killed, firing squad or electric chair (none of the above excluded).

      I hate to send money on more consulting at the City level, but hell, we.like consulting here in Edmonds.

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  3. I’d like to see more things to enhance wildlife populations. I’d like to see shorelines cleaned up and more nesting boxes for birds and bats.

    Trails are good, but I don’t want trails for motorized vehicles

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  4. At the moment I think that the continued improvement of Edmonds Marsh and expansion to include the old Unocal balk fuel terminal to eventually daylight Willow Creek are the most pressing needs. Edmonds Marsh is a unique gem and its restoration and expansion should be a top current priority in my opinion. Urban estuaries are not that common and Edmonds Marsh supports a huge amount of biodiversity considering its size. It also brings visitors from around the country and enhances the reputation of the city as being environmentally aware.

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