Jefferson County Open Space was established by voters in 1972 and is funded with a 1/2 cent sales tax which is used to enrich life in the County by conserving land for wildlife and nature, scenic quality, outdoor recreation, and for nature and history education programs. Tom Hoby, Director of Parks and Open Space for Jefferson County, Colorado, is responsible for managing over 51,000 acres of preserved land, 28 open space parks and 210 miles of trails in a county of more than a half million people. To best meet the needs of residents, accurate data is critical in making the right decisions as to how and where those tax dollars will be put to best use.
Using multiple methodologies (mail survey, online invitation survey, and online open-link survey), RRC conducted a comprehensive study in 2011 to answer key questions regarding future priorities for Open Space Parks in Jefferson County. Data collected provided valuable information on types of use of open space, frequency of use, and perceptions of value for the many elements of this complicated system of trails and parks. By collecting extensive public input from a random sampling of Jefferson County’s population, Open Space administration and advisory board members gained insights into the different ways which they are meeting, or failing to meet, expectations of residents.
“The research conducted by RRC has been a critical component of our planning process for open space parks improvements and programs and has guided many important decisions along the way,” commented Tom Hoby.
While the research is often focused on “system-wide” facilities and issues facing a department, RRC also specializes in diagnosing priorities for specific parks and open space parcels, such as a study conducted for Jefferson County’s Crown Hill Park located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. According to Hoby, “The study provided invaluable direction with respect to resident desires for potential infrastructure improvements at the park, protection and enhancement of park resources, and potential accommodations for social, recreation, and educational opportunities. The feedback and subsequent analysis from the study was critical to helping develop a plan that best addressed all park and resident needs.”