News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Citizens weigh in on future of SPRD

Last week’s public meeting on the next two years for Sisters Park & Recreation District was modest in size (12 people), but rich with insightful, thoughtful input from those in attendance.

“It is exciting to see community members taking the time to share with us their thoughts and opinions on how Sisters Park & Recreation District can continue to positively impact Sisters Country. There were so many insightful comments made at the public input session that will help us as we take the next steps in drafting the 2020-22 Strategic Plan,” Executive Director Jennifer Holland said.

There appeared to be a general consensus for more and better education of the community as to SPRD’s role and offerings. It is becoming much more of a community center offering a wide variety of activities for a broad range of ages and stages.

The board and staff of SPRD is undertaking an in-depth review of “all things SPRD” in preparation for their 2020-22 Strategic Plan. To that end, the public was invited to attend two open sessions to express their opinions on a variety of topics. Twelve citizens attended the daytime meeting held last Wednesday, but no one made it to the evening meeting, possibly due to slick road conditions.

In preliminary work done by the staff and board of directors, three main priorities were identified for the next two years. Each was addressed by a different staff or board member as they opened the discussion for public input.

Holland provided an overview, accompanied by a fact sheet, of SPRD’s history, mission, and partnerships with other community organizations (see related story on page 33).

Recreation Programs Manager Chad Rush facilitated the discussion on Priority One – Programs and Services. The goal is to provide an array of offerings that meets the interests and needs of the community for all ages and demographics.

Currently, about 75 percent of SPRD participants are youth and 25 percent adults. There was a suggestion that program offerings should include enrichment, education, and activities for a wide range of participants. Someone suggested offering some programs by interest rather than age, to hopefully attract a broader age range. As evidenced by the latest catalog, SPRD offerings have increased markedly in number and variety.

Everyone seemed to agree that the SPRD special community events, like the luau and the car show, are very popular and a great way to engage the community with SPRD.

Board member Bob Keefer led the discussion on Priority Two — Marketing and Communications. It is the goal of SPRD to be known by all in the community for all that they do, and the positive difference they make in people’s lives and the livability of the community.

“This has been an enlightening process for the board,” said Keefer. “We can do a better job of letting the community know who we are and what we do. We can improve our image. We’d like to get more people involved in what we do in all age groups.”

The group discussion around marketing and communications was extensive and lively, with a number of good ideas put forward for improving how SPRD keeps the community informed about what is being offered. Support seemed to coalesce around the idea of using trained volunteers to get the word out through a variety of avenues.

Business Manager Courtney Snead pointed out that if priorities one and two are going well, then Priority Three — Sustainability, should easily follow.

In 1998, when local voters approved the formation of Sisters Organization for Activities and Recreation, a special park and recreation district, partial funding was allowed by taxes. The original permanent tax rate of 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation was not nearly enough to fund all that SPRD is and does, but once established, it can’t be changed.

Therefore, special five-year local option levies are necessary to provide for the operation and growth of the district. The other sources of revenue are program fees, donations, and grants. The board is always looking at ways to create a stable revenue base.

Suggestions from those gathered included asking for what is really needed in the next local option levy election. More aggressive grant-writing and the possibility of annual memberships also surfaced. Again, educating the community about what SPRD does and why they are asking for money was stressed.

It is now the board’s job to take all the research and input gathered and craft a new strategic plan.

 

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