What do people on the lower Kenai Peninsula like to do for fun? What activities do they enjoy for cultural enrichment? What facilities would people like to see improved or built? Should Homer explore new ways to fund and support those activities?
To answer some of those questions, the city of Homer last summer funded a Park, Art, Recreation and Culture needs assessment, with Anchorage firm Agnew::Beck getting the $40,000 contract. The assessment process started this week when the city opened up an online survey. This fall, the needs assessment will gather information through surveys, community workshops and focus groups. Over the winter a needs assessment will be done followed by a report for community review and approval next spring.
“This is not a visioning process. It truly is a survey,” said Julie Engebretsen, a planning technician and the city employee tasked with coordinating the assessment. “The community will get a document with information in it and then we can decide where we want to go from there.”
The online survey includes not just questions about what activities people enjoy, but demographic information about where they live. While funded by the city of Homer, the assessment looks at the greater Homer area, including Anchor Point, Diamond Ridge, Fritz Creek, Kachemak City and East End Road.
“Clearly our services are used by people outside the city,” Engebretsen said. “There are (funding) options out there. How amenable are people to those options?”
The needs assessment also will survey businesses and nonprofit organizations to see what services they provide and quantify resources available.
“Some of these groups may be able to work better to share buildings and resources,” Engebretsen said.
Consultants also will hold focus group meetings with constituencies like seniors and school age children to see what they want and need. Ivan Moore Research in Anchorage also will do a statistically valid phone survey this winter. The needs assessment seeks to get information from the broader community, Engebretsen said.
“We want to make sure we hear from different parts of the community, not just happy members of the recreation program,” she said.
To take the survey, visit www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/recreation/park-art-recreation-and-culture-needs-assessment-parc. The survey also can be taken by filling out paper copies available at Homer City Hall. A community meeting is Nov. 13 at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. For questions or more information, call Engebretsen at 235-3106.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.