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City Hall Building
801 Crawford Street, 4th floor
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Phone (757) 393-8836
Fax (757) 393-5223



Recommendation Area: Recreation Programs

Recreation Programs should support the community recreational needs and services for all levels of users, age groups and user types so that they may enjoy family, friends and learn lifetime skills that create memorable experiences.

The goal of this section, and the overall Master Plan, is not to review individual programs or the overall system, but rather to ensure the success of any program by providing the support that is needed.


1. Develop more awareness of programs for pre-teens, teens, adults,
seniors, and families.

  • As mentioned with the communication recommendation, awareness is an essential component of any successful program. Multiple avenues for information distribution are key to spreading the word of what is available.

2. Provide a balance of program offerings across the City.

  • Based upon survey results, Portsmouth exceeds the national average in the participation rate for programs offered by the City, but some respondents indicated that the activities in which they are interested are not offered or they cannot reach them by foot or public transportation.

  • Residents should have the continual opportunity to provide feedback online and at Recreation Centers, but a specific public survey would also provide additional key input.

3. Improve security (or perception of security) in facilities to improve the use by residents.

  • The Portsmouth Police Department needs to make safety at City facilities a primary concern. Specific issues or problem areas should be reported to help improve safety.

  • Each facility should encourage feedback to help track any issues.

  • Design and maintenance can also help improve security or the perceived perception of it. (For example, well-trimmed shrubs near entrances and adequate lighting.)

4. Evaluate service performance at recreation facilities to support program needs and facility management requirements.

  • As an on-going strategy, staffing needs and staff performance should be periodically evaluated.

  • Each facility should encourage feedback and provide the contact information for the Portsmouth Department of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services.

5. Provide continuing educational opportunities for Parks and Recreation Staff to support existing and proposed program needs and facility management requirements.

  • As trends change in recreation and leisure services and desired programs evolve, Staff must orient or change programming to respond to changing demands.

  • Continuing Education will help Staff keep up with the impact of fiscal pressures, public-private partnerships, revenue limits, escalating operating costs, youth program trends, Wellness trends, etc. as the Department continually adapts.

6. Provide more programs that focus on nature.

  • Portsmouth has a unique opportunity to set itself apart from other cities because of Portsmouth’s one-of-a-kind natural resources and the interest its residents have expressed for nature programs and preserving natural habitat.

7. Provide more programs that focus on active adult/senior fitness.

  • People are participating in recreation activities to older ages.

  • There is an increased demand for more passive outdoor recreation pursuits and facilities (golf, walking, gardening, etc.). there is also a higher demand for mid-day recreation programs.

  • Providing facilities which accommodate people with mobility issues and disabilities is important, as well as, locating facilities either within walking distance or reachable by public transportation.

8. Develop programs that focus on youth development to improve the social issues youth face in today’s society.

  • Recreation programs can help build character, teach sportsmanship and promote physical and social development.

  • Facilities must be present to host these programs.

  • Facilities must be accessible to the youths who cannot yet drive themselves.

9. Expand and enhance historic and environmental related education programs to gain appreciation for living in Portsmouth.

  • With an abundance of unique historic and environmental assets, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services can expand programming to residents, especially the youth, to gain a better understanding of their natural and manmade environments.

10. Create a greater number of diverse Special Events from small neighborhood events to City-wide and regional festivals to help create a sense of pride while bringing the community together.

  • Connecting people and building stronger families and neighborhoods was a popular sentiment in the public survey.

  • Neighborhood events and festivals are an opportunity for the Department and citizens to collaborate. A “Procedures Plan” should be implemented by the Parks and Recreation that helps community leaders with the logistics of a self-directed event or project.

  • City-wide festivals are a great way to establish City-wide civic pride while encouraging those from other cities to visit Portsmouth.

  • Sports tournaments and special events such as arts, music and holiday festivals provide indirect revenue to local and regional economies.

Return to the main Parks, Recreation & Liesure Service Master Plan page


City of Portsmouth, Virginia · All Rights Reserved · Portsmouth City Hall · 801 Crawford Street · Portsmouth, VA 23704 · 757-393-8000