By Jen Massing Harris, Co-Founder/President, Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association
PZNA’s East Austin Community Outreach survey reveals neighborhood pride, love of parks and social good rank top for desired community activities
A resounding majority of survey participants, 72.73% to be exact, who participated in the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association’s [PZNA] Neighborhood and Parks Community Survey, agree that the future is very promising for their neighborhood. Last year, from July through November (2018), the PZNA conducted an open neighborhood and parks survey so that the organization could better assess which activities and issues were most on the minds of community stakeholders*.
A whopping 95.46% of respondents have ‘eastside pride’, 73.92% love City of Austin Parks and 90% want activities that brings the community together for fun or social good.
When asked “Q4: What types of community activities would you participate in if they were available in this neighborhood?” some 75% of respondents say they want to engage in park related activities, including cleanups, picnics, stage programing, dog meetups and gardening. Other activities by popularity included: 30% are interested in block parties while a three-way tie for 15% want exercise or sports; volunteering with kids and seniors; or festivals, fairs and street parties. Note participants were allowed to select multiple answers.
These park activities ranked as the Top 10 when asked about what would bring people to the park. This information helps the PZNA plan future community events or identify park improvements for grant applications.
Survey also shines spotlight on City’s rapid growing pains when participants asked about sense of community, public safety and neighborhood upkeep around East 7th Street
Though 73.91% answered in the range of ‘Very Satisfied’ to ‘Extremely Satisfied’ when asked “Q14: How satisfied are you with your experience living in this neighborhood?” the survey also reveals room for improvements too. For example, for “Q5: How strong is the sense of community in this neighborhood?” the combined result from respondents for ‘A Little Strong’ and ‘Somewhat Strong’ totaled 77.28%. As the survey asked deeper questions, respondents weigh in with their reasons for this.
For starters, gentrification, public safety, construction ‘noise pollution’ and homelessness are the top things that respondents dislike the most when asked “Q16: What do you like least about this neighborhood?” It should be noted this question allowed for a ‘fill in the blank’ answer.
Some 38% had answers related to gentrification, even though 65.21% had lived in the East Austin area for less than 10 years. Not too far off, public safety and crime ranked 29%. Related to Austin’s growing pains or gentrification, new construction’s noise pollution ranked third at 24%. Homelessness, at 19%, came in 4th. In total there were 21 different answers, two skipped this question.
Respondents put park activities again at the top (32%) with “Q17: What changes would most improve the neighborhood?” A surprising second was ‘older home restoration’ (21%). It should be noted this question was also a ‘fill in the blank.’ Several respondents suggested restoring older homes and not demolishing them. Finally, there was a third place three-way tie around public safety issues with: increase in police resources, park lighting and improve East 7th Street appearance maintenance and create better commercial influx (11%).
Asked “Q9:How satisfied are you overall with Parque Zaragoza - the park and facilities itself, recreation center and baseball field activities?” 42.86% of respondents said they are satisfied with another 9.52% very satisfied.
Asked “Q10: How well are the streets in this neighborhood cleaned and maintained?” the respondents included ‘Not well at all’ to ‘Not so well’ with a combined total of 52.17% and ‘Somewhat Well’ to ‘Very Well’ with a combined total of 47.83%.
Asked “Q11: Overall, how safe do you feel in this neighborhood?” respondents answered ‘Little Safe’ to ‘Somewhat Safe’ with a combined 60.87%, compared to ‘Very Safe’ to ‘Extremely Safe’ with just 39.13%.
Luckily for the City of Austin, this survey reveals a community eager to get involved, volunteer, get engaged and have neighborhood fun. However, most survey participants say they want to get involved but are not currently doing so. For question “Q2: How often do you participate in community activities in this neighborhood?” ‘Not so often’ to ‘Not at all’ combined took the lead at 69.57%.
The primary reason for this contradiction is revealed in “Q3: If you do not participate in community activities in this neighborhood, why not?” Some 69% who answered stated they didn’t know how to find out about neighborhood activities.
So, relatedly the PZNA has recently created a new Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Discussion Board on Facebook so that residents and people working in the community can share information and better inform each other. This new group allows people in the community a way to meet and to organize with others. You don’t have to be a member of the PZNA but must live or work within the association’s boundaries to join.
Fortunately, the survey takeaways are bright for the PZNA. The community’s desire to engage in more interactive activities and events is a great start to gaining a stronger sense of community. The neighborhood pride is already strong. With popular support for activities that will bring the community together – including park clean ups, picnics, festivals, block parties and park stage programming through the arts – the PZNA has no doubt that a safer and stronger community will result.
* About the Survey Methodology:
The survey was announced to the community through multiple in-person and digital methods, including reminders at all 2018 meetings and inclusion in member emails. The PZNA reached out to the greater community using multiple social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nextdoor. In total there were 23 participants from July through November 2018.
While the survey sampling provides valuable insights, it should be noted that based on “Q19: How long have you lived in the neighborhood?” the responses highlighted a split between native/more than five years (totaling 34.79%) and more recently relocated residents (totaling 65.21%). The PZNA believes both senior and multigenerational community stakeholders did not substantially participate in the survey and therefore are not well represented in these findings. This is surprising as gentrification and development – generally considered as hot issues only among long time residents – was mentioned multiple times by those who did respond. To request a complete copy of the Parque Zaragoza & Neighborhood Community Survey PDF, email.
About The PZNA
Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association (PZNA) – A voice for the East Austin Parque Zaragoza Community
The PZNA focuses on community engagement, public safety, historical preservation, sustainable growth and urban wildlife conservation. The guiding belief of the PZNA is that the combination of neighborhood heritage and smart, sustainable, respectful development is required to provide a safe and rewarding environment that can be enjoyed by all community stakeholders. Free to join the Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Association visit the website and complete membership form www.zaragozaparkneighborhoodassn.org.
Chief Scoop Blogger
I'm Jackson Papillon, an East Austin Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood [#PZNA] Canine. I have a good nose for news and will cover two regular beats: