Harper Woods extends parks and recreation survey deadline

By: Brendan Losinski, | Advertiser Times | Published June 14, 2017

HARPER WOODS — The city of Harper Woods is extending the time for residents to complete its Parks and Recreation survey, which will help determine the future plans for all parks and recreation programming in the community.

The survey originally was offered between April 3 and May 15. The city decided to extend that period due to insufficient public response. City officials are looking for at least 300 respondents to the survey.

“It’s being extended until Aug, 1,” explained Harper Woods City Manager Randolph Skotarczyk. “There are copies available at the library, at City Hall or through our website. Our website is www.harper woodscity.org. There is a link to the survey right on the front page. It links right over to SurveyMonkey, and it only takes five minutes to do.”

 The surveys ask residents if they are satisfied with the parks and will help determine the future of a variety of activities and programs in Harper Woods, including senior activities and youth sports.

The surveys ask residents if they are satisfied with the parks and will help determine the future of a variety of activities and programs in Harper Woods, including senior activities and youth sports.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The survey will be used to determine what the people of Harper Woods are looking for in terms of their parks and recreation services. If more senior citizens respond to the survey stating they are interested in public programing, for example, the city will make an effort to host more programs aimed at seniors.

“The survey will ask about what kind of services people want, how often people visit the parks, their satisfaction levels with the parks, input on potential goals for the parks and our programs, and obstacles on what prevents people from going to the parks,” explained Skotarczyk. “It will address all the issues that surround our parks and services here in Harper Woods, and we want to hear what kind of activities people would like to see here.”

Skotarczyk said he fears people didn’t respond due to apathy or because they feel their opinion will not matter. He wanted to assure Harper Woods residents that this is not the case.

“Unfortunately, people take these things for granted and feel like their voices don’t matter, and that’s not the case. It’s important for our administrators to get the input of the people, and we want to get as many people from the community to participate as possible,” said Skotarczyk. “This is for the parks and rec master plan, and we want it to reflect the wants and needs of the people of Harper Woods. The master plan will determine the future of what citizens here will have access to, so we want it to reflect their wishes and ensure they feel like they have a say in it.”

The city’s Planning Commission and the resident-based Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will be the bodies to formulate the master plan using the gathered data.

“The Planning Commission decided to send out these surveys and make a new parks and recreation master plan,” said Recreation Director John Bobak, who serves on the advisory board. “The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board are the ones who will help be involved in how to implement what the community is asking for. We offer input to the Planning Commission at their meetings and talk about different events in the city. I sit on it as recreation director, and the other members are all citizens.”

Besides creating a more up-to-date plan to serve residents, a new parks and recreation master plan is required to become eligible to obtain certain state and federal grants. 

“The Planning Commission is spearheading the recreation plan, and we are involved in giving input,” said Bobak. “Once the final information from the survey comes in, we will be involved in the planning. The advisory board meets with me, and we talk about different ideas. By having a valid recreation plan, it opens you up to receive different grants from the Department of Natural Resources.”

The city will be making outreach measures to encourage the public to take part in the survey. Representatives will be speaking to residents in public, the local Little League will put the link to the survey on its website and there will be social media blasts to those living in the area.

“All of our programs could be affected,” said Assistant City Manager Joe Rekker. “There’s been a big demographic change in Harper Woods (in the last several years), and our last plan was in 2000. To be a viable candidate for various state and federal grants, we have to have an up-to-date plan and have it reflect our residents’ desires and needs.”