A survey that reached 715 Sandy Springs residents revealed the majority use the city’s parks and feel welcome in them, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force member Clarissa Sparks said during an Oct. 12 meeting.

Sparks, who heads the task force’s Recreation subcommittee, partnered with Sandy Springs Together to distribute the survey. The nonprofit organization used the county’s registered voters’ list. The survey asked residents how they feel about the city and how they learn about events and activities.

Members of the Sandy Springs Diversity and Inclusion Task Force met in person and virtually to discuss findings by its communications and recreation subcommittees.

Sparks said 85% of those who responded use Sandy Springs’ parks. The majority of them – 95.4% – feel welcome in them. Of the surveys, 632 responded to the English version of the survey, and 83 to the Spanish version.

Almost 60% have never been to any of the city’s free events.

Task force member Nicole Morris said since the list of residents was created using voter registration information, no one under 18 answered the survey.

Sgt. Salvador Ortega said it didn’t need to be difficult to reach those under 18. The task force could partner with schools in Sandy Springs to distribute the survey.

“Clearly, people who are under 18 are an important part of what we want to do [for] outreach,” task force chair Jim Bostic said.

He suggested the Fulton School System’s communications director might be a good source of assistance in setting up a way to reach out to students under the age of 18 through the schools in the city.

Sparks will share the results of the survey with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to get their reactions and suggestions. She didn’t have recommendations yet for how the department could use funds designated by the city for outreach related to recreation opportunities.

Rabbi Joshua Heller, chair of the task force’s Communications subcommittee, offered his philosophy on how to affect change.

“We need to offer the professionals our desired outcomes, and then give the professional some latitude as to how to accomplish them,” he said.

The goal is that any Sandy Springs citizen can see what’s coming up in the work of the city and understand how it might impact them, Heller said.

While several members suggested the city develop a document to share top items from city meeting agendas. City Clerk Raquel Gonzalez – who also serves on the task force – suggested that they investigate how to get the entire agenda written in plain English to make everything easier for residents to understand.

Asked for his top priorities in Communications, he said there are two different kinds of solutions, one type involving logistics and the other reaching out.

“I would say that the papers of record like print media is not what it used to be. I would really not focus on that as much. I would probably focus on getting digital signage visible to members of our community in a different way, as sort of an immediate item,” Heller said.

He suggested working to have communications accessible in language that is understandable to the average citizen as another priority.

The next task force meeting will be Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. 

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.