Carthage parks surveys mailed to random residents | Local News

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Carthage residents have the opportunity to give their opinions and make suggestions as to what they would like to see in local parks as the city prepares a parks and recreation master plan to guide development for the next 10 years and beyond.

Surveys were mailed out to hundreds of Carthage households, and the general public can take that same survey online at http://carthagesurvey.org.

Parks Director Mark Peterson said it takes about 15 minutes to complete, and it asks a variety of questions to help the responder give the best information to the city to use in creating the master plan.

Peterson said the survey will yield two sets of results — a statistically valid set of results from the surveys mailed to households and a more generalized set from the surveys taken by people who didn’t get the surveys but went ahead and took the surveys online.

Peterson said the people participating in the statistically valid survey have a code they can enter to tell the survey company, ETC Institute, that they received a survey in the mail even if they decide to take the survey online.

“Everyone is welcome to go to carthagesurvey.org to fill out a survey, and if they didn’t receive a letter in the mail, then they won’t be recognized as part of the random, statistically valid work,” Peterson said. “The random households, they will get a letter in the mail with a survey, and from that letter, they will be able to do one of a few things. They can fill it out and send it back in with the prepaid envelope, or they can go to the website and based on the information they submit on the website, ETC will know if they were one of the random households or not.”

Peterson said he’s eagerly awaiting the results of both surveys, and he’s curious to know what residents think about the future of Carthage’s parks.

He said the data collection phase will be followed by a series of public meetings to discuss the ideas and concepts generated in the surveys and other information collected.

The city of Carthage signed a $130,000 contract with Dick Horton Consulting, of Pittsburg, Kansas, to create a parks master plan.

Peterson said the process is scheduled to take about nine months from November 2020, when the contract was signed.

The city had planned to create this parks master plan earlier in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the effort.

Dick Horton said he uses a three-phase process to help communities create master plans. The phases include data gathering, public presentation of findings and analysis, and creation of an implementation plan.

In addition to the surveys, Horton’s subcontractors are assessing different elements of Carthage’s parks and recreation system, including the organization, maintenance and partnership.

Peterson said Horton has told him he hopes to have results of the statistically valid survey by the middle of March and to start holding public meetings sometime in late March or early April.

Peterson said the online survey should be available and live through at least the end of February and maybe into March.

He said the surveys filled out by people who did not receive surveys in the mail will also be compiled and will “add another element of information to help make those decisions.”

“If the results of the online survey align with the results of the statistically valid survey, we’ll feel more confident about them,” Peterson said. “Both sets of survey work will just add to that decision-aking process.”

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