ARDMORE -- The results of a needs-assessment study in hopes of improving the city's park and recreation department are in.
Fifteen graduate students from the University of Arkansas have been studying the parks and recreation department for about four months now.
One issue that seems to resonate throughout their findings is the lack of programs. The students believe the city relies on organizations such as the YMCA to offer outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, and music programs for people of all ages.
But many times, the majority of residents cannot afford the fees, and the city may be able to offer the same programs at a cheaper rate while boosting the parks and recreation budget.
Data also showed the department was critically short-staffed. Each maintenance worker is responsible for 217 acres of land individually, which falls significantly below the national average.
They suggested hiring more employees, outsourcing work at the golf course and creating more management positions to take a load off director Kevin Boatright.
"We'll take the date back to the advisory board, city commissioners pinpoint priorities results…(This) gives us vision for next two to three years what we need to offer," said Boatright.
Researchers also identified a clear division between folks living in the east part of town and those living in the west. They say creating more programs might encourage more cohesion among the people of Ardmore.