Strategies for Creating Successful Joint Use Agreements: A Case Study
Keywords:Joint use, case study, partnerships, physical activity, youth sport
AbstractAs financial resources diminish and the cost and development of land increases, community–school partnerships for the joint use of public school facilities have received growing attention. Although joint use is not a new concept, its resurgence as an efficient and effective way to deliver recreational services comes at a time when researchers, practitioners, and policy makers are examining ways to address challenges an increasingly inactive population faces. Although there are examples of successful joint use partnerships, many entities are reluctant to engage in them due to fears of vandalism, liability, overuse of facilities, cost, and lack of knowledge about how to develop joint use agreements. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to use a case study methodological approach to understand factors that resulted in a successful joint use agreement. The school and parks and recreation department used in this case study were purposefully selected due to the high amount of community- and school-related use during after school hours. Semistructured interviews were conducted with the school principal, school athletic director, town parks and recreation director, parks and recreation facility managers, and the town manager. The interviews yielded four major themes that were identified as reasons for the success of this joint use agreement: deliberate formation and continued maintenance of relationships, shared vision, agreements set up to be mutually beneficial, and resources to address community demands. Although our findings are limited because we examined only one joint use partnership in one region of the country and likely excluded the perspectives of other potential key informants (i.e., program participants), our results revealed patterns that might be useful for practice. In this case, the strengths of the parks and recreation administrators were their willingness to maintain constant communication with school personnel and their emphasis on being respectful of the needs of the school administrators and their programs. Parks and recreation personnel understood the importance of establishing and maintaining positive relationships and how these relationships are directly linked to their ability to offer quality recreational programs. However, the development and maintenance of joint use agreements is not easy. For joint use agreements to work, there must be cooperation and effort by all parties involved, clearly stated objectives, and the pursuit of outcomes that are beneficial to both sides.
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