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Kyle rec center survey shows broad interest

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

KYLE – Residents have told Kyle officials that they would make frequent use of a recreation center and could even be talked into supporting a bond issue to build such a facility, according to survey results presented this week to the Kyle City Council.

Pat Hoagland and Wayne Bain of Brand, Stetter and Carroll, the Lexington, KY, firm hired to facilitate the project, told the city council that a survey of Kyle residents shows 52 percent would use a rec center several times per week, while 63 percent either would or might vote for a tax increase to build it.

The city, with the firm, sent out 2,000 surveys to Kyle residents, receiving 503 responses. The firm said the results are 95 percent certain to be accurate within 4.4 percentage points, plus or minus.

Kyle’s parks and recreation department is simultaneously at work on two projects – a 43-acre regional park at Dacy Lane and Beebe Road, which already has received a $2.5 million grant from Hays County, and a 70,000-square-foot recreation center that would go on the property. The city is aiming for a November 2009 bond election to raise $18-20 million for the rec center.

According to the survey, 37 percent of Kyle voters would support a bond issue for the project, 26 percent might vote for it, 20 percent would vote against it and 17 percent said they weren’t sure. If the city could convert half of the “might” and “not sure” respondents into votes for a bond, it would pass by a comfortable margin.

Rec center advocates were even more encouraged by the survey’s clues about participation in the facility, particularly the 52 percent who said they would use the center several times per week and the 69 percent who said they would use he center at least once per week.

“That’s high,” Hoagland said. “We do several of these surveys, and we never see these numbers.”

The survey showed that 47 percent of adults would pay at least $4 per visit and 32 percent said they would pay at least $3 per visit for a child. In addition, 40 percent said they would pay at least $300 for an annual family membership, 26 percent said they would pay at least $250 for an annual adult membership and 28 percent said they would pay at least $100 for an annual children’s membership.

Bain said it would cost about $1.2 million per year to operate a 70,000-square-foot rec center, which doesn’t include the cost of building it.

“I do not see any reason why it would not be self-supporting for operations,” Bain said.

The firm and the city also gathered preferences for the facility’s features by interviewing focus groups and holding a public workshop. The focus groups included various community and recreational organizations, as well as city departments and elected officials.

The top five priorities identified by the focus groups, were, in order, a swimming pool, multi-purpose rooms, an aerobics room, a gymnasium with weight and cardio equipment, and a walking/running track. The top five priorities identified in the public workshop were a competition pool, reasonable fees, a cardio/weight room, a walking/running track and multipurpose rooms.

Having completed a needs assessment, the city now moves on to Phase II of the five-phase project, which involves the development of a master plan and a cost analysis.