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Parks Count! Better Parks for Better Living

Parks Count!

It's time to update the Park and Recreation Needs Assessment! Every so often 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 park, recreational, natural and cultural resource services, facilities, and programs at an affordable cost. Park and recreation needs shift over time and grow more quickly than available resources. 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 public forum to be held later in the process. Sharing information with us will help 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’ve 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. That information is being compiled and will be posted here when available. 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 is an online forum for exchanging ideas. You can read comments from others and add your own once you’ve set up a user account. This forum was used heavily during the information gathering phase and will be used again when draft recommendations are available (early 2016).
  • 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.

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

As we work through the analysis phase (survey and analysis), continue to follow this project site, email, and review our online forum to keep in touch.

A survey...
The Park Authority has partnered with a leading national consultant, ETC Institute, to administer the statistically valid survey, a linchpin of the Needs Assessment Study. Almost 15,000 surveys were mailed out in March 2015. Households that received the survey represent 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.

Reponses are in and tabulations have started. Early results were released in the middle of September, and are available as part of a media packet provided on this webpage. A full survey report, including all response totals and analysis will be available early October. Thank you to all who took the 10 to 15 minutes to complete the survey.

Survey data, public comment, trends research, and other information will be analyzed during the summer and fall of 2015 and used to develop service level standards and preliminary recommendations. Interim updates will be made available on this project website.

It's not over yet...
Early 2016 we will invite you to a second public forum to share the study findings and recommendations to 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!


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.


Use the online forum to tell us what parks you use and how you use them. Read comments posted during our first phase of work, vote on ideas, and start new comments. Get engaged in the discussion.

Count Me


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

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

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