Holiday Island Recreation Needs Assessment - Summer 2007

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Holiday Island Recreation Needs Assessment

Summer 2007

Conducted by Joseph A. Gaa

Executive Summary

A recreation needs assessment was conducted at Holiday Island during the Summer of 2007. The project was administered by Joseph A. Gaa, who served as an independent consultant to Holiday Island.

The process began with a series of interviews and town hall meetings in June. Information gained from the meetings was used by the consultant to create a survey. The survey was then mailed to all property owners at Holiday Island in July. The survey of four major emphasis areas: Facilities Desired, Programs Desired, Satisfaction with Current Facilities, and Respondent Information.

Of the 2582 surveys sent out, 921 were returned for a 36% return rate. The highlighted results of the needs assessment were presented to the Board of Commissioners in September of 2007 and are presented in detail in this report.

The written report is divided into the following sections: Respondent Information, Facilities Desired, Programs Desired, Satisfaction with Current Facilities, Conclusions, and Recommendations. The relevant numerical data for each section is presented and then followed by narrative analysis by the consultant. The Conclusions and Recommendations sections contain overall information and strategies that were deducted by the consultant from the survey and meetings.

Respondent Information

Surveys Sent Out= 2582
Surveys Returned= 921 (36%)

Respondents with Children in the Household= 87

Months of Residence

0-3263
4-623
7-918
10-12490 (59%)

Internet Access

Yes651
No138

Activity Pass

Full Access Family Card233
Full Access Individual Card104
Limited Access Family Card146
We Do Not Have an Activity Card297

Consultant Analysis

An important point to note is that of the 921 surveys returned, 97 (11%) were incomplete. By this, I mean they were returned but did not fill out the survey. Most included comments stating they did not live there full time or visit often enough to have an informed opinion. After accounting for the incomplete responses, 824 surveys were used in the final analysis.

A second point of interest was that a 36% rate is regarded as a very good return rate. Such a rate was expected due to the nature of Holiday Island being a suburban improvement district and that residence is by choice rather than other limitations.

One interesting fact was that only 87 (11%) respondents indicated that they have children in the household. One of the points of interest I found during the interviews and town hall meetings was that there were more children living on Holiday Island as evidenced by the amount who attend school in Eureka Springs. The results of the survey do not correlate with those numbers. From that observation, further analysis would be required before making decisions to add or remove facilities and programs aimed at children.

The residence status of the respondents indicated a 59% majority being full-time residents. During the oral presentation of the results, the commissioners expressed interest in learning of any distinct differences between full-time residents and part-time residents. The notable differences as observed by the consultant were:

Part-time residents do not feel their voices are heard

Part-time residents do not feel they should have to pay the same fees as full-time residents

There were no major differences in facilities and programs desired between full-time and part-time residents

The number of respondents who indicated that they have internet access at their homes is also of interest. This could be a major step in increasing communication and knowledge to the property owners of Holiday Island. A community website could also have value as a tool for recruiting new residents.

The responses regarding types of activity passes did not have significant implications to the consultant. However, it was noted by the recreation director that these numbers exceed the types sold in each category. Therefore it is the belief of the consultant that these numbers have no reliability and should not be used as an indicator or basis for any decision making.

Facilities Desired

Please choose the THREE facilities that you feel are most needed at Holiday Island.

Facility

Number of Responses

Fitness Center

437

Indoor Pool

394

Walking/Biking Trail

354

Indoor Walking Track

234

Movie Theater

215

Library

120

Community Meeting Building

120

Park/Playground

100

Performing Arts Center

87

Gymnasium

51

Computer Lab

47

Racquetball Court

33

Game Room

32

Indoor Tennis Court

30

Consultant Analysis

An initial point of interest is the Community Meeting Building. During the interviews and town hall meetings the need for a larger meeting space dominated the discussion. In reference to the survey, it did not maintain that dominance. It is still my belief that the need for a Community Meeting Building is substantial. One possible reason for the disparity is that during the meetings the term "community center" was often used. The types of amenities that were discussed were meeting rooms, fitness center, indoor pool and indoor track. Those items were highly chosen on the survey. My recommendation is to further investigate the type and amount of facilities and amenities that could be housed in one multi-use facility.

A further point of interest is that some natural groups occurred in analyzing the results. The most chosen facilities can be grouped as those related to physical/personal fitness. A second grouping can be identified as entertainment/enrichment. A third and final grouping that was formed is sports facilities. These groupings should be helpful to administrators and policy makers in looking at facilities and ways to combine uses.

Programs Desired

Please choose the FIVE programs you would be most interested in participating in and that you feel would be a good addition to the community.

Program

Number of Responses

Fitness Classes

454

Organized Trips

399

Computer Classes

337

Adult Education Classes

318

Arts and Crafts Classes

222

Medical Transportation

211

Health Seminars

210

Dancing Lessons

196

Music Programs

194

Nature/Birdwatching

171

Art Classes

153

Language Classes

144

Adult Sports Leagues

144

Financial Planning

133

CPR/First Aid Classes

130

Tennis Lessons

46

Youth Sports Leagues

45

After School Programs

45

Consultant Analysis

One of the first observations was that the most desired facility was a fitness center and the most desired program was fitness classes. In theory, the most desired facilities and most desired programs should be close matches. That was not always the case here, with one example being computer classes as a highly desired program but a computer lab was not a popular facility desired among the respondents.

A second observation was that the youth related programs had low popularity, which matches with the minimal amount of respondents whom indicated they had children in the household.

A question of the consultant that was not considered in designing the survey was that of the current existence of these programs. It is possible that some of these programs may exist in the form of a "guild". There are many existing guilds at Holiday Island and the consultant would caution against offering programs that could be served by a guild.

It seems apparent there are guilds and other social groups already in existence and may be using Holiday Island facilities as their meeting places. It may be a desirable strategy for the Holiday Island administration and the guilds to work together as programming partners. HI could provide facilities and promotion through a website while the guild could provide the programmed experience. Such partnerships should be considered in the future when considering the addition of facilities and programs.

Satisfaction with Current Facilities

Place an X in the category that best represents your level of satisfaction with each facility you use. If you do not currently use the facility, thus not having an informed opinion, simply do not mark any category for that facility.

Facility

Extremely Satisfied

Somewhat Satisfied

Somewhat Dissatisfied

Extremely Dissatisfied

Swimming Pool

248

167

19

4

Tennis Courts

39

73

21

5

Pickleball Courts

50

40

6

5

Horseshoe Pits

22

43

15

5

Miniature Golf

58

120

54

13

Basketball Court

18

38

12

4

18-hole Golf Course

222

150

19

6

9-hole Golf Course

211

143

20

8

Pavilion

109

112

9

3

Softball Field

21

35

10

4

Shuffleboard

17

48

7

2

The Barn

92

175

57

34

Recreation Center

127

167

28

7

Leatherwood Trail

34

72

30

15

Clubhouse Mt. Rms

112

149

24

4

Rec. Cent. Mt. Rms

108

111

49

6

Marina

133

157

33

16

Campground

34

63

18

6

Of the existing facilities mentioned above, which ONE facility do you feel requires the most physical attention in the future and why?

Most popular responses:

The Barn

Responses ranged from spending large amounts of money to renovate the barn to tearing it down immediately. Many expressed keeping the barn, while admitting it was not sizable meeting space. There was also a large amount of people who suggested either tearing it down or keeping it, but building a new community meeting building.

Clubhouse Meeting Rooms

Responses here all indicated that the facility was in good shape, but was not big enough for large gatherings.

Leatherwood Walking Trail

Responses indicated a lack of safe walking trails and the need for more trails. A large amount of responses indicated they would like them to lead to shopping and business areas.

Swimming Pools

The majority of the responses favored an indoor pool. Additional comments indicated that swimming pools were expensive to maintain and needs lots of fiscal resources to stay functional.

Golf Courses

The majority indicated that golf courses need the most attention due to the large expense of maintaining them. Others indicated that the golf courses are/should be the focal part of the community and are invaluable in attracting new property owners.

Recreation Center

Similar to the Clubhouse Meeting Rooms, responses indicated need for larger facilities and more variety of activities.

Marina

Responses indicated the need for more slips, more parking and increased cleanliness at the facility.

Consultant Analysis

This section was included in the survey at the request and benefit of the administration in hopes of establishing a baseline regarding current facilities. This data does however have implications in this needs assessment. Many of the facilities indicated that the existing facilities simply were not big enough to provide the opportunities desired by the residents. Looking at these responses should help policymakers in establishing facility goals.

Attitudinal Questions

There has been consideration given to opening the golf courses to non-property owners during certain times. Do you support this idea?

Yes= 381

No= 399

Consultant Analysis

With the near even split with the respondents, the consultant recommends that the issue undergo significant discussion and research. It is advised that a policy be developed and approved by property owners. It is belief of the consultant that opening the course under certain restrictions could provide for an additional revenue source that could be used to supplement course operations.

Are you willing to spend more annually for the programs and facilities you identified?

Yes= 476

No= 317

If yes, how much?

$5-$20= 80

$21-$50= 126

$51-100= 173

$101-$500= 78

$501-$1000= 10

$1001+= 5

Consultant Analysis

The majority of the respondents indicated they were willing to spend more annually. It is advised to use this only as a indicator that moving on with a plan to increase facilities and programs is acceptable. It is important to note that more solid support will be shown when a concrete plan is developed. To insure property owner satisfaction, it is recommended that property owners be involved at every step of facility planning.

Conclusions

Several additional observations were made during the needs assessment process. Those issues are further discussed in this section.

The Barn

It became apparent at the town hall meetings and interviews that there was a distinct division between those who support keeping the barn and those who believe it should be replaced. That division was maintained in the respondent comments in the questionnaire.

The range of the division goes from tearing it down to invest significant fiscal resources to modernize it.

Many homeowners believe the barn to have historical significance.

Golfers vs. Non-Golfers

This issue also became apparent during the town hall meetings and was evident in respondent comments in the questionnaire.

The golfers feel more resources should be obligated for the maintenance and operation of the courses.

The non-golfers feel fewer resources should be obligated for the maintenance and operation of the courses.

There is dissention in the fact that the golf courses do not always break even or make money.

There were many residents in both the golfer and non-golfer categories that feel the golf courses are a major attraction to new property owners.

Permanent Residents vs. Periodic Residents

There are many property owners who only visit Holiday Island occasionally.

Many feel they should not have to pay the same assessments and user fees as permanent residents.

Many feel they are not given fair representation in decision making.

There were several periodic residents who indicated they wished to sell their property.

Income Disparity

One issue that appeared several times in the respondent comments was the fact that many residents are on fixed incomes

This was not an issue the consultant anticipated, as Holiday Island is primarily a "planned" retirement community.

Dissention with the Board

Another issue that appeared in respondent comments was a lack of trust and happiness with the board.

Many feel the board does not gain sufficient property owner insight before making decisions.

Many periodic residents do not feel they have any influence on the policies being instituted by the board.

Incorporation Talks

While not primarily an issue related to recreation, the idea of incorporation was noted in interviews, town hall meeting and respondent comments on the questionnaire.

There are strong opinions on both sides of this comprehensive issue.

Recommendations

The following recommendations are in reference to the issues identified in the Conclusion section of this report. The following recommendations are based on the consultant's perspectives after evaluating all information gathered during the needs assessment process.

The Barn

It is not feasible for HI to continue to operate The Barn due to outrageous costs of operation (ie. Utilities).

The Barn is not large enough for the current usage and future need.

The Barn has historical significance to many property owners.

Solution:

The consultant recommends creating a non-profit organization to establish a library/museum in which HI would allocate The Barn to that organization. Such a non-profit could operate with a volunteer board and librarians. This would allow the many existing smaller libraries located in local churches to combine their resources into one facility. This would also address one of the facilities desired by many residents. The non-profit could also pursue funding to refurbish the barn and purchase books and computers. The solution would save The Barn, address facility desires, and allow HI to reallocate resources currently used to operate The Barn.

Golf Courses

The consultant believes this issue should focus more on the golf courses themselves rather than "golfers vs. non-golfers.

It is true that golf courses are attractors to incoming residents.

It is also true that golf courses are expensive to operate and maintain and often struggle to breakeven.

The Solution:

The consultant recommends conducting an administrative review/feasibility study of the golf courses. Such a review should be conducted by an external investigator with thorough knowledge of golf course management. The reviewer could investigate internal operations, income/expenses, number and classifications of employees and the feasibility of having two courses at HI.

Permanent vs. Seasonal Residents

The consultant does not believe there is a solution to this issue. He can only offer the opinion that assessments should be equal for all property owners, no matter the type of property or residential status. It is also important that all property owners have a voice and fair representation in board decision making. Such information could be provided on a Holiday Island website.

Income Disparity

The consultant does not believe there is a solution to this issue. It may beneficial for Holiday Island to work with local real estate agents to locate property owners who would like to sell their property in an effort to more completely market the community.

Dissention with the Board

This is an issue that is present in nearly every community in the free world. The consultant can only urge the board to have set meetings and policies as to how issues are introduced, discussed and voted upon. Such policies should provide ample opportunity for the property owners to educate themselves and the board on the issue. The consultant further recommends that as least one seat on the board be held by a property owner who does not permanently reside at HI.

Incorporation Talks

The consultant believes that incorporation could provide for additional revenue resources that could help increase recreational facilities at HI. It is important to note the process is long and should involve lots of discussion and research.

Overall Recommendations

After reviewing the results of this needs assessment, the consultant offers the following recommendations.

Facilities

Work to create a long term facilities plan. A good starting point should be the most desired facilities as indicated on the questionnaire. Care should be given to create facilities with multiple use possibilities.

Although a community meeting building was not highly indicated on the questionnaire. The consultant such space is needed and should be a high priority in facility planning.

Programs

The consultant believes that the programming that has started under the new recreation director is a good, fresh start. For such programming to continue and increase, additional staff will be needed in the future.

The consultant believes that the recreation program should serve in partnership with the guilds to ensure residents are given fair opportunity to participate in all social activities and that recreational opportunities are not duplicated.

First step

The consultant recommends creating a Holiday Island website as a resource to property owners and prospective property owners. Such a resource could be used to inform residents of recreational activities, community events, guild contact information and board/administrative information. The consultant believes this would help market HI and address many of the communication issues that were identified during the needs assessment process.

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