By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

Bend-area residents love the trails provided by the Bend Park & Recreation District and have little interest in tennis or basketball, according to recent surveys.

As part of the process of developing a comprehensive plan to guide the district’s spending priorities over the next 10 years, the district commissioned a professional. In January and February, a firm working for the district contacted 532 district residents in a statistically valid survey with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.25 percentage points.

A separate, online questionnaire was conducted between January and March, in which anyone choosing to participate could offer input on how they use community parks and what they’d like to see from the district in the future. The district collected input from 1,427 area residents through the questionnaire.

The district board will be reviewing the results of the surveys at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Of surveyed participants, 85 percent reported having used the district’s trail system, and 77 percent said they’ve visited a riverfront park. Just 8 percent said they’ve used a district basketball court, with 9 percent reporting having used a district tennis court.

Just over half — 53 percent — of survey participants said they’ve visited Juniper Swim & Fitness Center within the past year. The Bend Whitewater Park was visited by 28 percent of respondents, while 33 percent visited The Pavilion for ice skating or warm-weather activities.

Asked to list recreational needs the district is not meeting, survey participants expressed strong support for additional trails, both paved and soft-surface. Access to the river and riverfront parks ranked highly, as did off-leash dog parks and off-leash trails.

In the online questionnaire, respondents were able to elaborate at length on what they’d like to see from the district.

Several participants expressed a desire for safe bike and pedestrian routes, with some describing difficulties crossing roads near Drake Park and Ponderosa Park,

Dog disagreements

Dogs split questionnaire participants, with some raising complaints about off-leash dogs and others expressing frustration at the leash laws. One participant suggested a dog behavior test, where the owners of well-trained dogs could be issued an ID that would allow them to take their dogs off leash in places where that is not currently allowed.

Dogs at Shevlin Park were particularly contentious. Dogs are officially required to be on leash everywhere at Shevlin Park, though the rule is often ignored. In recent years, some dog owners have been pushing for the district to make the area north of Shevlin Park Road an off-leash zone.

“This would be great to allow dogs off leash for jogging and hiking,” one commenter wrote. “50% of tax payers are dog owners, and you aren’t letting them use the largest park in Bend.”

Other questionnaire participants reported bags of dog droppings left on trails, and dog owners not respecting the leash requirement. One participant claimed to have been bitten by an off-leash dog at the park.

Other matters

Overcrowding at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center was a frequent concern raised by many respondents.

Several respondents had suggestions for facilities or programs not provided by the park district. Several respondents expressed a desire for an archery range and others for a mountain bike skills park. One respondent urged the park district to buy Mt. Bachelor ski area, and another suggested a weekly or monthly public sing-a-long — although the respondent said he or she would likely skip any night devoted to the music of ABBA.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,