Columbia Parks and Recreation rated highest public service for third year in a row

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COLUMBIA - According to the 2017 Columbia Citizen Survey, the Parks and Recreation department had the highest satisfaction rate of all public services. 

Satisfaction rate is determined by the number of respondents who rated the item as a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Parks and Rec had an 88-percent satisfaction rate. That was 8-percent higher than the second service, which was Solid Waste. It was also 21-percent higher than the Missouri average, and 24-percent higher than the national average.

"When you get the people that go out and enjoy the facilities and utilize what we're doing, we better make sure as a staff we offer the kind of facilities and the programs, and make sure they're high quality and well-maintained to justify the use of the citizens' demand," Mike Griggs, the Director of Columbia Parks and Recreation, said.

Griggs said the high rating has a lot to do with their dedication to customer service. The department came up with its own initiative, HEART. It stands for helpful, empathetic, accommodating, respectful and timely.

"It's what we eat, drink, sleep, live, I mean we are all about customer service," he said.

Brittany East, a mother in Columbia with a 2-year-old son, said the safety of the parks has impressed her the most. She said she loves that the park maintains its equipment and keeps it clean for children. 

"They've done a great job of maintaining the quality of the equipment, and the location of the parks," East said.

She said she also likes the fact that the parks are spread throughout the city.

"No matter where we are running errands, we can stop and visit a park," East said.

East and her son visit the parks roughly two times a week, she said.

"I think of it as one of the little treasures of Columbia, and I never thought I would," East said. 

Another key piece, Griggs said, to maintaining the department's high rating is in its frequent additions. He said the department is constantly looking for new opportunities to grow its footprint.

"I think if you don't move forward, you go behind," Griggs said. "If we just tried to stay status quo, then we go behind."

Parks and Rec plans to add a sports fieldhouse at A. Perry Phillips Park, as well as potentially two new trails.