Survey shows many Dubuque residents ready for return of summer programming

A survey conducted by the city of Dubuque indicates that many residents are ready for a return to summer recreational programming.

The survey, issued by the city’s Leisure Services Department, found that nearly 38% of the 246 respondents were “100% comfortable” with participating in in-person recreation classes and activities this summer, while about 50% were comfortable if varying levels of restrictions and modification are put in place. Only about 7% of respondents stated they were not comfortable or unsure.

Dan Kroger, recreation division manager for the city, said the results of the survey show an increased interest in recreational summer programming compared to last year. In 2020, a similar survey stated that 60% of respondents stated they were comfortable with in-person recreation programs, while 25% answered no.

“A lot of what this survey did was solidify what we were already thinking as far as people’s comfort level,” Kroger said. “More people want to get out there and participate in summer recreation this year.”

Kroger said the survey was held to gauge interest on various summer recreation programs Leisure Services provides in order for the department to better prepare what services and classes it will offer this year.

Survey respondents stated they were most vested in using pools this summer, with nearly 80% stating their interest. Other popular categories included swim lessons, casual park and playground usage and recreational classes.

Jennifer Tigges, a member of Dubuque’s Parks and Recreation Commission, said the disproportionate interest in the city’s pools doesn’t surprise her.

“It’s pretty much all that people ask about,” Tigges said. “Are the pools going to open? That seems to be the number one thing on peoples’ minds.”

Alternative forms of implementing programs and classes created in response to the pandemic also still saw interest in the survey.

About 31% of respondents stated they were still interested in participating in grab-n-go programs, while 17.5% expressed interest in online programming.

Kroger said the Leisure Services department will likely use the information to implement the proper amount of safety precautions for programs it plans to offer this summer. He added that classes and programs would likely be smaller this year, with participants more spaced out.

Questions related to team sports in the survey received fewer positive responses.

When respondents were asked if they intended to participate in team-based sports this spring or summer, 84% said no. When asked how comfortable people would feel sitting in a dugout with others, nearly 20% stated they were uncomfortable, while 29% were “100% comfortable.”

Tigges said the results of the survey are beneficial in gauging public interest in outdoor recreation during the pandemic.

“I think this input will guide them a little further in planning things out,” Tigges said. “It’s always good to get the opinion of the community.”