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Parks Count! Better Parks for Better Living

Parks Count!

Parks Count, the Fairfax County Park and Recreation Needs Assessment is almost done! There is still time to review the results and add your voice! Every decade the Fairfax County Park Authority examines whether park offerings match the community's diverse interests, lifestyles, and changing trends. This ensures that the Park Authority is investing wisely in its award-winning park system and providing quality parks and services to all County residents.


Parks count! Fairfax County benefits from a diverse community of over one million residents who have varied ages, incomes, languages, nationalities and levels of activity and mobility. Your park and recreation interests are as diverse as the community. You may like to walk through the woods, skate, swim, play sports, visit historic sites, garden, take classes or socialize with fellow pet owners. Most residents have multiple recreation and leisure interests that rely on parks. We want parks to count in your life!

Parks, activities and facilities help you enjoy life in Fairfax County! The Fairfax County Park Authority provides parks, recreation facilities, classes, camps and programs at an affordable cost as well as protects natural and cultural resources Park and recreation needs shift over time and grow more quickly than available funding. These changing needs must be counted and prioritized in order to make wise investments and decisions concerning parks.

Counting your needs and meeting them! Knowing that residents, individual preferences, and park and recreation trends change over time, we must periodically count your needs and preferences. The Needs Assessment Study is that periodic count, relying on research, surveys, and analysis. It helps us better understand what our customers need from a park and recreation system and how our agency can best balance and prioritize those needs across the County. The last study was completed in 2004 and the current study began in the summer of 2014.


Communication and participation...
We've established this website as the central, one-stop shop for Needs Assessment updates and information. You'll be asked to share opinions and views through this website, by email, and in person at a second Open House to be held on April 14, 2016. Sharing information with us helps us understand how you use parks and may help you learn a little bit more about Fairfax County's award-winning park system.

During the first phase of information gathering (September 2014 – January 2015), we heard a lot from park users about how you use parks, what you love about your parks, and how we can better meet your needs now and in the future. Here are some of the ways you’ve participated to date:

  • Open house: Our first public forum was held October 2, 2014 at Oakton Elementary School and featured an open house format. View the complete Open House Presentation with script.
  • Online forum: The Parks Count crowdsourcing page was an online forum for exchanging ideas. Users set up user accounts and were able to post and vote for comments . This forum was used heavily during the information gathering phase (over 700 users!) and while the forum is now closed, the input provided is captured in the Qualitative Summary Report.
  • Meeting in a Box: This tool allowed you to host a small group meeting of friends, colleagues, or neighbors to discuss the same matters discussed online and in the first public forum. If you couldn’t come to us, this meeting packet allowed us to virtually come to you.

A Qualitative Input Summary Report captures the breadth of topics and interests captures the breadth of topics and interests you shared with us in the first phase of information gathering. The document is long and reflects many views and interests. The first eight pages offer highlights and key takeaways from the input, the remaining 55 pages provide compilations and summary notes grouped by input source (e.g., Open House, Meeting in a Box, etc.). Thumb through to see a sample of what you’ve shared.

Thank you to those who have participated so far. You have shared many ideas and thoughts – thank you.

A survey...
The Park Authority partnered with a leading national consultant, ETC Institute, to administer the statistically valid survey, a linchpin of the Needs Assessment Study. Almost 35,000 surveys were mailed to Fairfax County households representing a random sample that will be used to project Countywide park and recreation needs. The survey results will help inform priorities and decisions about future park and recreation service delivery and facility improvements.

Summary results were released September 2015 and are available as part of a media packet. The full findings report is now available for those wanting more. The report includes charts and graphs released in September 2015, but also goes beyond by providing additional detailed results and response data. The file is large and is offered in parts (see below) to aid use.

Need Survey Findings Final Report

Thank you to all who took the 10 to 15 minutes to complete the survey.

Survey data, public comment, trends research, and other information was analyzed and used to review service level standards and develop preliminary capital investment recommendations.

It's not over yet...
Study findings and recommendations will be included in a draft final report, available spring 2016. A public open house to share study findings will be held Thursday, April 14 from 6:30 until 9 p.m., in the Herrity Building (12055 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax VA). The Open House will include a brief (15min) presentation at 7 p.m. that will be repeated at 8 p.m. The remainder of the open house will provide an opportunity to visit various information stations to learn more about the community’s needs for parks and facilities and the capital improvement plan for meeting these needs over the next ten years.

The report will also be shared with the Park Authority Board for their consideration. From then on through the next several years, we'll use the findings to guide investments in parks, facilities and services that count to our community.


For the full duration of this study, updates and new information can be found on this website. Please bookmark it and refer back periodically. If you would like to be added to the Needs Assessment email contact list, please send your name and email address via the E-News subscription box. We will use the email list to announce website updates, meeting dates and key points in the process; notices will also be posted to this site. Count on it!


A Parks Count open house was held April 14. If you were unable to attend, please see the presentation and information station links below.

4/14/16 Powerpoint Presentation
4/14/16 Information Stations

Crowdsourcing site users: The IdeaScale online forum has closed and is no longer available, but your input lives on in the summary report (see Documents feature below). Thanks to your participation last fall and spring, the Park Authority is looking into bringing back a crowdsourcing tool for agency-wide use. Stay tuned for information in the spring.


document Qualitative Input Summary Report captures the breadth of topics and interests you shared with us in the first phase of information gathering.

Need Survey Findings Final Report provides both summary and detailed results from the survey conducted by ETC Institute on behalf of the Park Authority. The report has been separated into sections for ease of use.


Materials from the Need Survey Results media briefing are now available for download.

  • Media Briefing Agenda, September 10, 2015
  • Fact Sheet: Quick look at the what, why, and how of the Needs Survey
  • Survey Presentation: The slide show provided to the Park Authority Board as an update contains several results and graphs. The file contains both the presentation as delivered (first 27 slides) and an appendix of other resource slides (remaining slides).
  • Survey: A copy of the survey as it was distributed in March 2015.
  • Consultant Team: Brief biographical materials on the two members of the consultant team primarily responsible for the administration and analysis of the need survey.

Want additional information? Contact our Public Information Office at Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov, or 703-324-8662.


What does a Needs Assessment do?
View the Open House Presentation, October 2, 2014 which offers quick information on what it does and outcomes of the 2004 Needs Assessment.

Parks Count Open House 2 October 2014

map iconWhere are parks? Use our Park Locator Search Engine to see what’s near you.

2004 Needs AssessmentLike history? See the 2004 Needs Assessment final report. It’ll help you understand what our last study told us.

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