Parks and recreation report reveals surprising numbers for city
Jeff Rosenfield | Gazette correspondent
Published: October 30, 2013   |
Updated: October 30, 2013 at 04:14 PM
A surplus of parks and a deficit of trails highlight the report, which also states that Clearwater's population is getting older and overall numbers are declining as few babies are being born.
CLEARWATER – The median age of Clearwater residents is the second-oldest among cities of a comparable population in the country, according to results of a recent Master Plan interim report by the Parks and Recreation Department.
The report also revealed that Clearwater has a surplus of parks as well as a deficit of volleyball courts, multipurpose fields and trails, based on standard state guidelines.
Clearwater Parks and Recreation official Felicia Leonard presented the findings of the report, which also polled residents about their preferences and opinions on a number of issues, at a city council workshop earlier this month.
“Our demographics, compared to the U.S. population, is we're an older demographic,” Leonard said.
“In the United States, there's a total of 19 percent of people 16 and older. Here in Clearwater in 2012, that number was 31 and a half percent. So that's significant.”
Those figures calculate to a median age of 43.8 years, meaning Clearwater has the second-oldest population for a city of 100,000 or more in the country, trailing only Scottsdale, Ariz. The number is expected to rise, to 45.3 years, by 2017.
Leonard also revealed that recent census figures show Clearwater's population is projected to decline over the next 25-plus years; in 2013, it was 109,065, but that number is projected to fall to 104,255 by 2040.
“What this says is we will maintain our baby boomer population, but because we don't have a younger demographic, we're not having the birth rate that would normally occur in a city of our size,” she explained.
The rest of the report, which comes at the midpoint of the update of the 2002 Master Plan, deals with classifying the city's parks and gauging the department's level of service.
According to the report, studies found that the city has a surplus of playgrounds (plus 21) and tennis courts (plus 28), but a deficit of volleyball courts (minus 11), multipurpose fields (minus 9.8) and bike trails (minus 30.9 miles).
The findings caused Mayor George Cretekos to question what would have happened had the city known the report's results sooner.
“If we had these performance standards in place earlier, then the recommendation back to us would be to do away with playgrounds, is that correct?” he asked. “Because it says we have a surplus of 21 playgrounds.”
Assistant City Manager Jill Silverboard responded that the question was difficult to answer because of the many different factors involved.
Another portion of the report was dedicated to the recreation department's findings from five community workshops it conducted in August and September.
More than 100 participants were polled on a number of topics relating to the city's parks and recreation services and amenities, with the results to be taken into account during the finalization of the Master Plan.