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Local Policy-Makers’ Opinions Regarding Park and Recreation Services

Samantha L. Powers, Andrew J. Mowen, Austin G. Barrett, Alan R. Graefe, William F. Elmendorf, B. Derrick Taff


Local government officials represent influential funding stakeholders for park and recreation services. Research suggests that officials may differ in their perceptions of public services based on their status (i.e., elected, appointed) and type of community they serve (i.e., rural, non-rural). However, these presumptions have not been empircally tested. This study examined perceptions of park and recreation benefits among local officials. Overall, officials perceived that park and recreation services provided high youth development and community benefits. Perceptions of economic and youth development benefits were significantly higher for elected than appointed officials and for non-rural than rural officials. Knowledge of the community development, health, and resource protection benefits of park and recreation services was limited among rural, appointed officials in comparison to their non-rural and elected counterparts. Findings suggest that agencies should focus their conversations with local officials on these benefits to convey the value of parks and recreation in their communities. 

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Appointed officials; benefits; community size; elected officials; parks and recreation

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