Survey: Non-residents should pay more for Dover rec programs

DOVER — Dover officials continue to be encouraged by the responses received in the city’s recreational-needs assessment.

The survey last August from 506 residents put a focus on upgrades in recreational programs and parks.

Ann Marie Townshend, the city’s director of planning and community development, said the survey indicates what the residents want and need from the city’s parks.

“Now we need to work on putting together a master plan to try and accommodate those needs,” she said.

The survey asked a series of questions such as how often does one visit the park? The reason behind one’s visit and what would one would like to see at the park?

It then gave the resident a list of upgrades to choose from, including bike racks, sand volleyball, horseshoe pits and indoor restrooms.

The city’s parks include Dover Park, New Street Park, Schutte Park, William Park and Silver Lake Park.

Sixty-eight percent of the residents responding indicated they visit Schutte Park. The main reason is because of league play, followed by trail use and playground use, according to the survey.

Forty-four percent of the 506 survey respondents indicated they use the John W. Pitts Recreation Center.

Primary purposes for visiting the center includes sports leagues, fitness classes, the walking track and open gym.

Based on the survey feedback, the plan may include the addition of benches, fitness stations along the loop trail, tennis courts and a skatepark.

The city will utilize in-house engineering staff to create a master plan for this park that includes expansion of the multi-purpose athletic fields and the parking necessary to support the field expansion and other park amenities, officials said.

The master plan will also include expansion of the paved path to create a loop.

The City of Dover Comprehensive Plan has called for a citywide parks and open space plan since 1996. While individual park plans have been developed, the city hasn’t completed a system-wide plan in recent years.

Some members of the community and city council said the city neglected the needs of residents on the east side of U.S. 13 through its park investments in recent years.

“The concern brought forward the need to fully assess the citywide recreation needs and to make the capital investments in our parks in accordance with these identified needs,” Ms. Townshend said.

About 67 percent of the residents responding agreed that programs should be supported by a mix of fees, grants and taxes.

Respondents also indicated that fundraising and seeking business sponsorships should be sought to support programs.

The survey also showed significant support for city residents to pay a lower fee for programs than non-residents of Dover.

“The city hopes to use data to create and implement a plan for which Dover residents pay a reduced participation rate, either through a nonresident surcharge or a separate fee for residents and non-residents,” Ms. Townshend said.

Ms. Townshend said city officials hope to send out the city’s recreational-needs assessment every five years.

“I think that’s important,” she said. “It gives us a fresh outlook on what is needed for the city.”

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