Moberlyans really like their city's parks.
That's one finding of a recent city survey, anyway. Among many other things, the survey found that 85 percent of those Moberly residents surveyed said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the overall quality of parks and recreation programs and services.
And that figure is quite a bit higher than the 69 percent national benchmark set for park satisfaction, according to the executive summary of the survey, which is being used to inform the direction of Moberly's 2040 comprehensive plan.
It's also higher than the 77 percent park satisfaction benchmark set for Missouri and Kansas.
Moberly Parks and Recreation Department Director Troy Bock said the quality of Moberly's parks and park programs is in large part thanks to Moberly's taxpayers.
“For a city this size, the taxpayers are very generous in terms of the taxes they pay to fund a relatively large park system for this size town,” he said. “Because of that generosity, we've been able to undertake a lot of projects in recent years.”
Those projects, Bock said, have contributed to a wide variety of parks and facilities.
“Aside from large parks like Rothwell, we have neighborhood parks, as well as the athletic complex, the Moberly Aquatic Center, the Municipal Auditorium, the miniature railroad” he said. “We have amenities and venues for nearly everybody and everything.”
Some of Moberlyans' apparent satisfaction with local parks is likely due to MPR's quick action to solve reported problems with parks and facilities, Bock said.
“We are intentionally very responsive to the public,” he said. “That doesn't mean we can always be everything to everybody, but we try to be as responsive as possible to not only address maintenance needs but correct operational issues brought to our attention.
“I think the public in general feels that and sees that.”
The department's efforts transcend the grass, trees and playgrounds within park perimeters, Bock said.
“We try to be collaborative with other departments and groups,” Bock said. “We've continued having discussions with the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Moberly as far as bringing more activity downtown and using Parks and Rec as an avenue to not only create quality of life, but also community development.”
Other partnerships Bock mentioned included Altrusa Club, Friends of the Park and others.
One recent partnership that brought thousands of people from outside of Moberly to the city was the 4th of July Extravaganza, during which MPR worked with several corporate partners to bring nationally known musical acts and a massive fireworks show to Moberly.
The July 4th event is one example of how MPR is trying to make Moberly a hub for parks, recreation and events, Bock said.
“We are trying to draw people from far outside Moberly to put us and keep us on the map,” he said. “Rather than having our residents leaving for Columbia or Kansas City for events, our goal is to try to attract folks from a wide radius for special events.”
Bock said he was very pleased with the satisfaction numbers the recent city survey revealed, but the parks department isn't planning on coasting on those figures.
“We need to continue down the current track we're on,” he said. “We've made a lot of headway in the last five years in terms of maintenance and parks in general.”
Some ongoing needs include items as simple as painting park shelters, as well as the department's hope to resurface the old tennis courts by Shelter No. 1 in Rothwell Park, Bock said.
“We're focusing on quality over quantity after several years of adding amenities like the Lodge and Municipal Auditorium,” he said. “We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”
Bock thanked MPR staff members for their continuing efforts.
“Despite some staffing limitations, they do an impeccable job keeping everything in the best quality possible,” he said.
The citywide survey that determined Moberly residents' satisfaction with local parks, among other measures, was sent to 3,000 Moberly households earlier this year. Of the survey recipients, 436 responded.
Parks currently under the jurisdiction of MPR include Rothwell, Fox, Lion's Beuth and Tannehill parks. Depot Park in downtown Moberly is currently under the jurisdiction of Moberly City Hall, Bock said.