Batesville Parks and Recreation Commissioner And Moving Batesville
Forward Recreational Facilities Task Force Facilitator

In May of 2009, I saw a newspaper article from a project done by the University of Arkansas for Sebastian County. The project created a strategic plan for the County and as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner for the City of Batesville it seemed to me that this would be something that Batesville could use. We were in the throes of trying to figure out how to best provide for our citizens. We had parks, pools, a golf course and people to run them but the citizens wanted more. I contacted the University asking who had done the project and inquired if something could be done for us.

Dr. Moiseichik, the director and instructor of the program, came to visit Batesville and explained the programs and the cost. For our $12,000 the project provided the following:

Town meetings
Questionnaires developed from the town meetings are mailed to registered voters
Risk and disability assessments of all parks
Stakeholder interviews
SWOT analysis using collected information to identify major issues of the department
Research compiled using literature from the field and benchmarking practices of similar communities
Combining all the information to make suggestions and priorities for the community to move to a preferred future
The program was tailored to what we needed and included recommendations to help provide direction for the future.

The phrase “You get what you pay for” simply does not apply when it comes to the value of the Administrative Review and Needs Assessment Study conducted by the University of Arkansas Recreation and Sports Management Program School and Community Class of 2010. We got much more than expected.

In April, the citizens of Batesville received the results of the semester long Administrative Review and Needs Assessment Study and it was exceptional. The results of this study will provide the blueprint for Batesville’s recreational future.

In addition to the presentation, participating communities also receive copies of the entire report in binder form. The binder contains an executive summary of the almost 400 pages of information contained therein.

A number of steps are involved in the study and the compilation of the information. The research helped us identify where we are currently in regards to our demographics, facilities, funding, land, budget, staff and other areas. Then they took information from town meetings they held and developed a survey mailed to our registered voters to determine how to take the community to a new and more successful level. That was followed with research as to how to do it with some of the most prevalent steps listed as a starting point.

The study helped our community come together by allowing many citizens to participate in the town meetings, in the stakeholder interviews, and through the questionnaires. When a community gets to be actively involved in a project, they become owners of the project and become anxious for the outcome. While the students did most of the work, the community embraced the study and is very active in moving forward with the suggestions. The more that community members are involved the more valuable the study becomes.

In Batesville, the outcome has been such that the entire community has developed a much stronger support for the Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, they are much more aware of the challenges that are faced in the operation of the Parks and Recreation Department and have become much more active in seeking solutions.

The study provided all of the material needed to develop a long-range comprehensive plan. It also provided us with the foundation needed to build a successful program as well as a road map of how to get there.

The study is a wealth of information and while the number of pages seems daunting, the information is such that once I started to read it I was not able to put it down. It is so riveting because the community gets to look at its facilities through the eyes of another. How often do you get to see your facilities as someone else does?

The binder, in Batesville’s study, contains 131 pages of research, 14 pages of job descriptions that covers everyone in the Parks Department, 100 pages of Risk Assessments, 105 pages of checklists, 16 pages of Emergency Action Plans, 1 page of Biographies of the students involved in the study, 20 pages of Appendices, and 12 pages of references. Talk about a strong foundation to build upon!

The City of Batesville is already using the study to develop a strategic plan and taking the necessary steps to become the best Parks and Recreation Department in the State of Arkansas. In fact, the city is currently considering a proposal that will reorganize their Parks and Recreation Department as well as provide funding for the building of a new community center, theater, indoor and outdoor aquatics parks, and a new unified baseball, softball, t-ball, and soccer facility. None of this would have even been considered without the information contained in the study.

The study, a very intense and in depth evaluation of the current facilities, programs, facility and program needs, administration and organizational structure, was conducted by students in a graduate level class taught by Dr. Merry Moiseichik, Professor of Recreation in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Merry Moiseichik and her classes regularly provide consulting services to communities to help them provide high-quality recreation services. Recreation faculty and students work with at least one community each year to conduct studies involving risk management, feasibility, benchmarking, needs assessment and administrative reviews.

I strongly encourage and recommend that any community interested in being considered for an Administrative Review and Needs Assessment Study contact Dr. Merry Moiseichik at the University of Arkansas as soon as possible. Her contact information is as follows:

Address: University of Arkansas
College of Education and Health Professions
308S HPER Building
Fayetteville Arkansas 72701
E-mail address:
Office phone: 479-575-2870
Office Fax: 479-575-5778