JUN 15 2015
Kirkland Parks Opens Dialogue on Bold New Aquatic Center Plan
With a growing population including many young families, the demand for aquatic and recreation centers is high in Kirkland, Washington. In August 2013, Kirkland announced that city’s only public indoor pool would be shut down in 2017. The announcement sparked a public outcry, and the Department of Parks and Community Services began to draw up plans for a state-of-the-art Aquatics, Recreation and Community Center (ARC). As public debate continued, Kirkland still needed hard data about the support of the plan, and particularly where the plan’s supporters and detractors were located.
To gather the broad, quantitative data they needed, Kirkland Parks and Community Services Director Jennifer Schroder launched a Textizen survey for public input. In February 2015, Kirkland Parks sent out a community-wide mailer about the proposed ARC, with a Textizen prompt asking whether the project was a good idea. In total, 1,195 community members provided input by text.
“You can’t rely on everyone just reading the local newspaper or subscribing to a listserv for city news…. Asking a question gives us an idea of who’s reading what we’re sending out. I’ve been very pleased with the results.”
-Jennifer Schroder, Director of Parks and Community Services
Public Feedback is Just the Beginning
Of the 1,195 people who responded, 64% said that Kirkland absolutely needs the ARC, with an additional 21% answering yes depending on location and cost. 65% of all respondents opted in to receive text updates on the project. Respondents also provided their neighborhoods, so Kirkland has a clear sense of where the most enthusiastic supporters of the ARC reside.
However, Kirkland’s public engagement will not end with the survey. Kirkland’s City Council has developed a proposed set of features for the ARC and is preparing a ballot resolution to fund the project. The resolution is slated for public voting as early as November. In the coming months, the Department of Parks and Community Services will continue reaching out to inform and educate the public on the ARC, as well as sending text message updates to survey respondents who wanted to stay in the loop.