From the Madison Beach and Recreation Department and Commission
The results are in! Thank you to the nearly 500 citizens who took the time to respond to our 2019 End of Year Survey. Beach and Recreation Department Staff and members of the advisory Beach and Recreation Commission have heard your comments and would like to provide you with a brief summary of results and some updates:
The facilities which respondents use most often are our beaches: Surf Club Park (87%), East Wharf (61%) and West Wharf (42%). Bauer Park is frequented by 29% of respondents and Salt Meadow Park by 21% of survey participants. More than half of you reported using these facilities weekly.
On our scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), 60% of respondents rated their overall satisfaction with the services provided by the Beach and Recreation Department a 3 or 4. When asked to rate the level of customer service provided by the Beach and Recreation Staff, 53% gave a response of 4 or 5.
The majority of respondents (71%) gave the programming provided by the Department a rating of 3 or 4. When asked to specify which programs they use, respondents covered the full spectrum of the programs offered, from sports to nature programs to open gym to garden plots. Concerts, summer camps, boat racks, and sailing lessons were also frequent responses. The Before/After School program is another very popular program.
There were more than a few requests for expanded Open Gym hours on the weekend. The Department has changed the weekend hours at Town Campus Gym: Youth Open Gym is available until 9pm on Saturdays now through the end of March. The Department is also looking into other ways to streamline our gym pass system as it is important that we have a system in place to account for those in the building should an issue arise i.e, Fire, Active Shooter incident etc.
When asked to rate the user experience of navigating the Beach and Recreation department website, the most frequent rating (30%) was 1. In the long answer section for this topic, many respondents stated that the website is difficult to navigate and the search function does not always get the user to the program they are trying to find. The Department is currently working with the software provider and the Town Technology Department to improve the Beach and Rec website, strengthen the search function, and make it easier to navigate. You can expect to see a new interface soon.
When asked how the Department can best communicate with participants, almost all who answered stated a preference for email updates. The Department will investigate the best way to provide information by email. In the meantime, the Department does have a Facebook page (facebook.com/BeachRec/) and a Twitter feed (Twitter.com/MadisonSurfClub). Follow both to get news and updates.
People asked about the status of restrooms and the planned kayak launch at Salt Meadow Park. Purchase of a pre-built pavilion with restrooms is currently underway, with site preparation to occur this spring as weather permits. Installation of the pavilion should be completed over the summer and the facility will be operational for next fall. Building a kayak launch over the marsh at Salt Meadow has been determined to be too costly because of the distance to the river, however, flexible thinking by the Salt Meadow Advisory Committee and Town Departments has revealed an option to add a kayak launch site on Town property just South of Route 1 on Cottage Road. Plans have been submitted to the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for approval and must go to the Planning and Zoning Commission for their approval as well before we can begin working on the site.
We received a LOT of free-response comments about beach parking passes, lifeguards, and gate guards. The Department and Commission are working hard to provide a system which is efficient, user-friendly, and enforceable. The Beach and Recreation Commission recently voted to authorize the First Selectwoman to terminate the Town’s agreement with the provider of last summer’s system. We will issue a parking pass sticker as we have in years past. We will continue to provide the customer service point of sale at the Surf Club during the Summer season that was added last year. An online pass renewal option is being developed. The Department budget request for 2020-21 will include funds for staffing improvements, lifeguards, and gate guards. A Waterfront Coordinator has been hired to oversee lifeguard recruitment and management. (Experienced lifeguards are welcome to apply- please contact Davide Mendonca at RH1@snet.net) When the full system is finalized, we are committed to communicating the process to residents in a clear and concise manner.
While this summary only touches on a few of the major themes of the results, rest assured that Department Staff and Commission members have read through all responses and we appreciate the feedback you provided. The Beach and Recreation Department and the Beach and Recreation Commission share the goal of providing quality programming and well-maintained facilities. Thank you once again to all who responded to our customer survey!