Pickleball was a relatively unheard of activity in Mexico as of five to 10 years ago. Now, there are pickleball courts at Fairground Park. How did the city’s Parks and Recreation Department discover this community need? It was found through the development of a master plan and park system analysis.

The master plan is not a static document. So, the department went to the Mexico City Council at its Nov. 26 meeting to seek authorization for the city to enter into an agreement with ETC Institute, a market research survey company out of Olathe, Kansas, to update the Parks Master Plan Survey. The 2018-19 budget allowed as much as $25,000 for the update. The council approved the resolution from the city.

“The original survey will go out in the mail to random households. After those returns come in, (ETC) will look at community demographics and see if those returns match up with the community demographics or not,” said Parks and Recreation Director Chad Shoemaker.

Surveys likely will be sent after the first of the year. The city is working out agreement details with ETC, Shoemaker said. “I would say a reasonable expectation would be getting a return (on surveys) sometime in April. March would be better. If I got it in March, it would give it to us early enough in the planning season that it would give us a lot of help in this coming capital budget,” he said.

The expected costs include the resident survey at $12,500 and a property survey at $1,500. If responses to the resident survey don’t match up with community demographics, more surveys will be sent to residents, either by mail, email or phone call, until the responses are representative of the wide-ranging Mexico community.

The first step is to look back at the original survey. It was designed to be updated every five years, according to the resolution approved by the council. “There are some things in there that we asked people about last time that already have been built now,” Shoemaker said.

After the survey is finalized, it will be prepared to print and mail out, he said. Administering the survey will take at least two months. This includes mailing, waiting on and receiving responses and compiling the gathered information.

The department will then have to determine if the information gathered is adequate, or if more information is needed in a particular area. Shoemaker said the department may ask ETC, as an example, to gather more information on mothers with children and how they use parks and rec facilities.

“Once that’s done, they will prepare a full report to us and we’ll present that to the council,” Shoemaker said. “At that point, it’s just a matter of us using those results to help guide capital planning.”

The Parks Master Plan is about coming up with general goals from the community, Shoemaker said. The survey is more detailed.

“It’s like (for example) we’re talking about building a new pool. At that new pool, do you want shelters that are for rent, do you want shade? Do we need lighting on pickleball courts that already have been built?” Shoemaker said.

The survey helps the department target the money it spends on things Mexico residents want in its parks and recreation facilities, Shoemaker said. Parks and Rec started doing the survey after the passage of the parks sales tax as a means of being accountable in how the sales tax revenue is spent, he said.

“(The survey) gives a way to rate that public support for different things that are statistically valid. So, you’re going out and getting a known sample of the portion of the community and then we can say we’re 96 percent confident that if we did this survey 100 times, we’d get the same results 96 times,” Shoemaker said, adding the survey is a means of getting the things of which the silent majority wants.