The  Master Plan for South Bend Venues Parks & Arts is updated every five years.  This entails a complete inventory of current conditions, a needs assessment, benchmarking against comparable communities, trends analysis, community desires and some implementation strategies.

The last Master Plan effort included a few dozen public meetings all across the city, each with a spanish translator, several topic and focus groups and some unique tools for garnering community input.

Some of the key engagment tools from the Master Plan Update:

Public Feedback Meetings: Over 28 meetings including public open house meetings, stakeholder meetings, focus group meetings, City Department meetings were conducted to obtain the maximum amount of input and feedback on this master plan. All meetings times, dates, and locations were advertised through the following means:

  • Press releases
  • Direct email
  • City of South Bend website
  • Parks and Recreation website
  • Newspaper (South Bend Tribune),
  • Radio, and Television
  • Neighborhood Associations websites or neighborhood listserves

 Each of the open public meetings had a spanish translator available and the meetings were equally distributed across the six districts of the city to give most equitable access to the entire community.

Statistically Valid Community Survey:  In February and March 2014, on behalf of the City of South Bend, Public Research Group (PRG) conducted email, telephone and mail surveys in an attempt to identify South Bend’s park and recreational behaviors, wants and needs. A total of 506 randomly generated email, telephone and mail responses were obtained. Email responses were generated from desktop computers, smart phones and tablets. The goal of the survey was to produce findings that could be generalized over the entire population of the community.

In addition, a non-random self-selecting online survey was created and placed on the park and recreation department website in both English and Spanish language formats. This second sample was not combined with the primary random sample, but rather was compared to the statistically valid results for additional insight into the survey findings.  Total responses were over 1,200 to both methods.

CityVoice for Parks:  A unique, phone-in application was created that placed signs at parks and recreation facilities across the city.  This allowed people at these venues to call in their comments right when they were actually engaged with the system.  This approach was recognized and was given an award for innovation by the Indiana Park and Recreation Association.