Community News Survey says people want greenway connection, splash pad for parks in Collegedale, Tennessee

Community News Survey says people want greenway connection, splash pad for parks in Collegedale, Tennessee

February 20th, 2019 by Myron Madden in Community East Hamilton

Survey results from Collegedale's recent recreational survey show new greenway connections and a splash pad among park-users' top desires.

Conducted in October, the questionnaire was developed in partnership with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's outdoor recreation department, which has worked with Hamilton County government on research projects in the past.

Survey data

328: Total number of survey respondents

51: Percentage of respondents who identified as Collegedale residents

66: Median number of visits to parks a year by the average resident

The goal was to gauge what locals want to see added to Collegedale's leisure opportunities and offerings in the future.

Data collected through the survey will aid city planners as they work to form long-term goals for recreational amenities, facilities, programs and special events, said Traci Bennett-Hobek, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Developing a master plan for recreation will enable planners to pursue larger grants, such as those from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, whose grant offerings often stretch to $1 million.

"We need to be able to compete with some of the other cities," Bennett-Hobek said. " ... We're one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, so we want to make sure we keep up with the demand for recreational opportunities."

Results from the survey show that park-users' top two priorities are maintaining current parks and developing new greenways.

In regards to greenways, Bennett-Hobek said city planners will have a better idea of how to develop new connections once the Tennessee Department of Transportation has fully completed its widening project on Apison Pike.

The ultimate goal will be to connect residential areas to the greenway system, she added.

While Collegedale has ample park offerings, the city ranks below the national average for accessibility to its parks, according to a news release. Right now, many Collegedale residents must drive to the parks and greenway system in order to safely access the facilities and structures, as there are still areas without sidewalks or bike lanes.

Beyond just creating safe and equitable access, developing those additional greenway connections could also positively impact the health of locals and bring more families to the area, Bennett-Hobek said, alluding to a referenced note in the UTC results that states "children's use of a park can increase by 400 percent if they have access close to home."

"You want people to be able to walk to a park, bike to a park," Bennett-Hobek explained, adding, " One of the things that drives families to an area is what we have for their children to participate in [and] what is available to them for health and wellness."

Another dominant element survey respondents expressed interest in seeing is the construction of a water feature, such as a splash pad or pool.

Because much of the area lies in a floodplain, Bennett-Hobek said much of the land on the city's recreational property would not be suitable for a splash pad. Still, that doesn't mean the option is completely off the table.

"It's just something to put out there for the future, and something may free up and that might be a good use of that space," she said.

Other high-ranking items respondents indicated they might like to see are water bottle filling stations, much like the one in Collegedale Public Library, and recycling receptacles along the greenway to prevent visitors from having to walk too far with trash in hand, which may lead some to litter.

"This is just public feedback," Bennett-Hobek stressed. "It doesn't mean that everything the public writes down is going to get done. We're just glad that people are excited."

The next step is to hold a public meeting to get more feedback from area residents. Though no date has been determined as of yet, the forum is expected to take place some time this spring.

To stay up to date on currents events and activities in Collegedale, visit collegedaleparksandrec.com or facebook.com/Collegedaleparksandrec.

Email Myron Madden at mmadden@timesfreepress.com.