Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Movement Sciences


Sport and Recreation Management

Committee Director

Lindsay Usher

Committee Director

Edwin Gómez

Committee Member

Eddie Hill

Committee Member

Lamar Reams


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between park use by residents that live within a ¼ to ½ mile radius of their neighborhood park, perceived benefits from neighborhood parks, and neighborhood sense of community (SOC) in three Norfolk, Virginia neighborhoods. The neighborhoods included Titustown, Colonial Place, and Edgewater. There is a lack of research regarding the relationship between neighborhood parks, perceived recreation benefits from neighborhood parks, and their relationship to neighborhood SOC (Gómez, Baur, Hill, & Georgiev, 2015). Participants completed a questionnaire that included the Sense of Community Index-2 (SCI-2), demographic questions, park usage questions, and park benefit questions. The SCI-2, which is a measurement tool based on the theoretical framework of SOC by McMillan and Chavis (1986), was used to rate their level of SOC in their neighborhoods. A second scale, the Perceived Benefits of Municipal Parks (PBMP) Scale (after Gómez, 1999) was used to measure benefits. Questionnaires were administered in person in the neighborhoods.

Descriptive statistics examined demographic characteristics and park use questions. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)/structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to confirm the two scales used in the study. Pearson correlations (r) were used to assess if there was a direct relationship between park use and SOC. Additional correlations explored the relationship between (a) access to the park, (b) perception of the park, (c) park use, (d) SOC, (e) benefits, and (f) length of stay at the park. Independent samples t-tests were performed to see if there are differences with respect to users and non-users of the parks. Independent samples t-tests and ANOVAs were used to explore demographic differences. All analyses were performed at p < .05. Results indicate there is a significant but weak relationship between park use and SOC; however, park use was not a significant predictor of SOC. Results show a significant relationship between perceived park benefits and SOC, and benefits was a significant predictor of SOC. Practitioners can use findings to provide support for parks as catalysts to increase SOC in neighborhoods. Academics can use the scales for future research in parks and recreation management.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).