A multi-dimensional scale for repositioning public park and recreation services
Kaczynski, Andrew Thomas
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The goal of this study was to develop an instrument to assist public park and recreation agencies in successfully repositioning their offerings in order to garner increased allocations of tax dollars. To achieve this, an agency must be perceived as providing public benefits, those that accrue to all members of its constituency. The scale sought to identify the importance of various community issues and perceptions of the agency's performance in contributing to those issues. A valid and reliable 36-item instrument was developed that encompasses nine distinct dimensions: Preventing Youth Crime, Environmental Stewardship, Enhancing Real Estate Values, Attracting and Retaining Businesses, Attracting and Retaining Retirees, Improving Community Health, Stimulating Urban Rejuvenation, Attracting Tourists, and Addressing the Needs of People who are Underemployed. These dimensions represent community issues that a park and recreation agency can contribute towards, and can therefore use as a basis for its repositioning efforts. Using a screening process by expert judges, a pretest sample of undergraduate students, and a sample of municipal residents, each of the importance and performance dimensions in the scale was judged to possess content validity, internal consistency, construct validity, and split-half reliability. A shortened version of the instrument was also demonstrated to possess internal consistency and construct validity. In a practical application, the scale proved useful in identifying repositioning options for the park and recreation department, both in isolation and relative to a public agency'competitor'. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are offered.