If you’ve found your way to the PLAY Roanoke blog, chances are you’re interested in your local Parks and Recreation Department. Whether through participation in our programs, frequent use of our parks and facilities, or simply because you’re a civically-minded Roanoke resident, welcome! Now that you’re here, we have a question for you. Have you ever wondered how we compare to other Parks and Rec agencies? (Aside from Pawnee, Indiana, of course.)
Luckily, there’s a way to find out! The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) regularly collects data from thousands of agencies across the United States with which they create a customized Agency Performance Review. (Fun fact: Our photo was on the cover for every agency report across the country this year. Neat!)
Let’s dive into the specific metrics and how we can understand this information.
The data provided in our Agency Performance Report allows us to compare our department to agencies nationwide. The metrics look at things like how many parks your city has per resident, how many programs are offered, number of employees, operating expenses, and much more. The numbers change throughout the year, but this report includes data collected between 2020 and 2022. These insights help us paint a picture of our Department’s successes, challenges, and opportunities. This information is helpful when goal setting, requesting funds for operating budgets, new project justifications, and more.
So, how does Roanoke Parks and Recreation Measure Up?
61 Total parks, compared to 22 Nationwide
- What this means: We have way more City parks than the national average! While this is certainly great news, it’s important to keep in mind that managing and maintaining more parks than average is also challenging.
1,640 Residents per park compared to 2,287 Nationwide
- What this means: Our parks are less crowded than the national average. While most agencies have 2,287 residents for each park in their City, we have one park for every 1,640 City of Roanoke resident.
2,632 Residents per playground compared to 3,759 Nationwide
- What this means: Our playgrounds are also less crowded than the national average. While most agencies have 3,759 residents per playground in their City, we have one playground for every 2,632 City of Roanoke residents. That’s great news!
93 Trail miles managed or maintained, compared to 15 Nationwide
- What this means: While most Parks and Recreation Departments manage just 15 miles of trails/greenway, we have 93 – that’s six times the national average!
7.9 Full Time Employees per 10,000 residents, compared to 8.9 Nationwide
- What this means: We have one less full-time employee per City resident than the nationwide average. While our Department has more parks, playgrounds, and trails/greenways than the national average, our number of full time employee positions is below average.
559 Total number volunteers, compared to 138 Nationwide
- What this means: Our Volunteers Rock! We have 421 more volunteers than the national average. From the Volunteer Tree Stewards to program/event volunteers, the dedicated Trail Crews and Greenway Ambassadors, volunteers are essential to our Department. What’s more, this number doesn’t even take into account the incredible volunteer efforts of our youth athletic programs since they are accounted for by the individual recreation clubs. Thank you volunteers!
1,532 Programs offered, compared to 200 Nationwide
- What this means: Roanoke Parks and Recreation offers significantly more program opportunities (1,332 more, to be exact) than agencies nationwide.
76 participants per program, compared to 50 nationwide
- What this means: Not only do we offer more programs, they are also better attended than the national average.
$54.95 Operating Expenditures per capita, compared to $94.77 Nationwide
- What this means: While our Department has more parks, playgrounds, and trails/greenways than the National average, we receive $39.82 less per City resident than the national average.
So, for those who stuck with us through all that data, what is the takeaway?
In short, these metrics show that our department has a LOT to offer! We have more parks, playgrounds, and trails than the national average. We offer a plethora of programs, and our residents enjoy them! We receive fantastic support from our dedicated volunteers, and our staff are accomplishing a great deal with less resources on average than other agencies nationwide. In short, we’re doing more with less.
So, reader, since we already know you care a lot about your local Parks and Recreation Department, we hope you’ll take this knowledge with you and continue to support PLAY Roanoke and the work we do! Spread the word with others, offer a kind word to our staff, join us as a volunteer, or simply pay a visit to your neighborhood park. July is National Park and Recreation Month after all, so you know we’ll be busy!