Master plan in works for AC PRT
Clemson University faculty and Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism staff heard that residents want facilities and programs geared towards outdoor aquatics, equestrian-focused events, linkable multi-model trails for biking and hiking, at a meeting discussing a recreational plan Tuesday.
There was also desire to enhance, restore and maintain existing facilities.
Aiken County PRT has partnered with Clemson to develop a master plan that will guide the direction, growth and development of the department for the next decade.
On Tuesday, an input session open to the public was held on the master plan, during which data was gathered on the public's satisfaction with, and the importance of, current programs and facilities.
Those in the roughly 20-person audience were asked multiple-choice questions on how happy they are with arts and cultural, pre-kindergarten and youth/teen programming and cycling and running programming.
They were also asked questions on the importance of parks and open space, athletic fields and indoor recreation space. Audience members were given wireless, hand-held polling devices and asked to click a button to enter in their answers. Results were tabulated and displayed in real time.
For instance, 64 percent of the audience answered that running and cycling programs are important, but not available.
Fifty percent of the audience answered that aquatics programming is important, but, again, not available.
Fifty-seven percent answered they are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied with current recreation programs.
"We'll look at the gaps in the importance and satisfaction data," said Dr. Bob Barcelona, an assistant professor with Clemson's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management.
"That will give us an understanding of where priorities might be."
When asked if they had $100 to give to Aiken County PRT, 75 percent of the audience answered they would direct the money to fund greenways and trails.
Then, the audience was asked to write down on notecards the names of parks and centers/facilities owned and operated by Aiken County PRT.
Several notecards were left blank, because people could not think of one.
Mouths fell open when Barcelona informed the audience that PRT owns and operates 23 parks and centers/facilities throughout Aiken County.
They range from the Recreation Center in Graniteville, the Edisto boat landing in Couchton, Johnny Wood Park in North Augusta to Spider Web Park in Beech Island.
Five priorities for the future of Aiken County PRT emerged from the data gathered Tuesday: outdoor aquatics, linkable multi-modal trails, equestrian-focused programming and facilities, indoor multi-use recreation facilities and enhancing and maintaining existing facilities to include eliminating and/or re-purposing some parks.
Barcelona said all the data will give PRT something to "run with."
Barcelona and his colleague, Dr. Bob Brookover, the director of the Clemson International Institute for Tourism Research and Development, anticipate having a draft of the master plan complete by December.
An online survey to gather more feedback from the public will be available soon.