County Seeks Opinion On Local, Regional Parks Through Online Surveys

By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough County residents have recently received their Annual Notice of Property Assessment, Truth in Millage (TRIM Notices) in their mailboxes, which this year came with a bit more than just how much their house and property are worth.

Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Director Dale “Doc” Dougherty said that nearly 450,000 of the TRIM notices were sent out, but through an agreement with his department, the notices also explained to property owners how to take an important survey on parks.

“The notices give residents another opportunity to tell Hillsborough County what they want to see in their local park system,” Dougherty said, adding that Parks and Recreation is in the midst of a major survey designed to gather residents’ input on facilities, programming, and recreational needs throughout the county and that the information will be used for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

“So far we have received more than 1,700 responses back, which is a huge success already,” he said. “More responses helps to make more balanced decisions to improve our parks.”

All of this comes on the heels of the department’s recent series of public meetings soliciting input from residents about the future of local neighborhood parks, dog parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, and recreation centers and regional parks.

Officials said that the county is also in the process of pursuing a second survey.
“We are also sending out postcards to 20,000 households with information about the survey,” Dougherty said. “These surveys will allow response from residents who could not attend our previous meetings.”

With the public meetings now completed, officials are planning to meet with some of the larger groups such as the various sports leagues that use the parks throughout the county.
The department will be collecting the responses until the end of September, after which they will be analyzed to get a better picture of what residents want.

“We are hoping to get done with this campaign by the end of fall and put together as well as began the process of implementing the new master plan,” Dougherty said.

Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation is offering a wide variety of facilities and programs for all ages and abilities, while in the midst of developing a Parks and Recreation Master Plan that needs residents’ ideas. The survey is available through PlanYourParks.org.