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contents january 2019 volume 54 | number 1 |


44 Top Trends in Parks and Recreation for 2019 Richard Dolesh

NRPA’s analysis and fearless predictions for what will be the most significant trends in parks and recreation is now entering its fourth year. The top trends for 2019 range from the smallish to global. They take in subjects as large as the worldwide challenges of waste disposal to those as small as speculating what programs come next after pickleball.


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50 Addressing Homelessness in Parks Milo Neild, M.S., and Jeff Rose, Ph.D.

To better understand the complexity of homelessness within municipal public parks, we conducted a series of interviews with local government personnel who are tasked with assisting all impacted parties. One of the themes that resonated across the research, from an overwhelming portion of those interviewed, was that they clearly expressed a need for public education to better address homelessness in our public parks.


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contents january

columns 8

departments 12 Research Time to Gauge Your Performance Kevin Roth, Ph.D.

14 Park Pulse The Importance of Pollinator Education

The ULI Case for Open Space Report Reema Singh

Empathy Requires Understanding Gina Mullins-Cohen

24 Advocacy Federal Money: Funding for Park and Recreation Projects of all Sizes Kyle Simpson

City Restricted Park Food Sharing with Homeless James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

32 Conservation

20 Member to Member Connecting the Generations .Lauren Quinn, CPRP; Sonya Malinowski, CPRP; and Sandra Olson, CPRP

56 NRPA Update „„ Remembering Ernest W. Burkeen, Jr. 56 „„ Get Ready for February – American Heart Month 58 „„ A Governor with Roots in Parks & Recreation 59 „„ Connect Hot Topics 60 „„ Member Benefit – Background Screening: An Opportunity, Not an Obligation 60 „„ Member Spotlight: Karla Kelley, CPRE 61 „„ Parks & Recreation Crossword 62 „„ Professional Development Calendar 63

64 Operations 10 Top Fitness Trends in the New Year Vitisia Paynich

66 Products 67 Park Essentials 71 Advertiser Index 72 Park Bench A Labor of Love Sonia Myrick

Cover image: stevecoleimages/

Parks & Recreation

10 Editor’s Letter

26 Law Review

16 Community Center


Perspectives Let’s Make Parks and Recreation a Top Trending Topic Barbara Tulipane

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Recreation and Resilience Wende David

36 Health & Wellness Fostering Healthier Communities by Creating Soccer Play Spaces Ed Foster-Simeon

40 Social Equity Breaking Ground in Baltimore for Parks Build Community 2019 Suzanne Nathan

Page 32

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Let’s Make Parks and Recreation a Top Trending Topic If you have a smartphone in your pocket, a tablet for browsing the internet or a computer at your desk, chances are you have been on social media or a news feed in the past 24 hours. While you were scrolling trending topics, how many times did you see something that made you think, “Wow, that’s interesting”? It is amazing how much of our daily attention is captured by trending topics, so much so that we hardly even notice what a time-suck it is. But, I will occasionally catch myself and ask, how do I sift through the blizzard of trending topics to know which will be lasting and which are, well, just fads? This month’s issue of Parks & Recreation is all about trends affecting the field — where are we now, what’s coming next and what should we be doing now to prepare for the future. How we define diversity today, for example, may be different in the future. Health determinants, income inequality, educational opportunities and environmental conditions will require us to look outside the boundaries of parks and the traditional offerings of community recreation programs. Forces such as gentrification, displacement of communities and social cohesion are rapidly shaping the future of parks and recreation, whether we like it or not. I want a world where parks and recreation is among the top trending topics. If it is, our world will be a better place, and we will find more opportunities for large-scale beneficial changes. People will have more places to go to become healthy and stay healthy. We will have a healthier environment and be able to enjoy the many benefits that brings. We will have more beauty and appreciation for life, every day. If I stop during the blizzard of information about “what’s trending now,” and ask myself what will have not only a lasting impact on me, but also on my community and even on our country, I have a much better understanding about what trends will be meaningful for the future. I believe we can cut through the daily bombardment of information by effective communication and good relationships. When I am with my family, especially my granddaughter, not only am I happier, but I intuitively spend more time thinking about the things she’s going to need to navigate her way through this world. Suddenly, the fads fall away, and the trends come to the forefront.



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2 2377 Belmont Ridge Rd. | Ashburn, VA 20148 703.858.0784 |

NRPA’S MISSION: To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Karen Bates Kress

Chair of the Board of Directors Jack Kardys

Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Treasurer Xavier D. Urrutia City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation San Antonio, Texas

Secretary Karen Bates Kress Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

President and CEO Barbara Tulipane, CAE National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Formerly of Portland Parks & Recreation Portland, Oregon

Neelay Bhatt PROS Consulting Indianapolis, Indiana

Hayden Brooks American Realty Corporation Austin, Texas

Kong Chang City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Saint Paul, Minnesota

Joanna Lombard University of Miami School of Architecture; Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Health Sciences Miami, Florida

Carolyn McKnight, CPRP Former BREC Executive Director East Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Joshua Medeiros, CPRP, AFO Town of Cheshire Parks and Recreation Cheshire, Connecticut

Herman Parker City of San Diego, California, Parks and Recreation Department San Diego, California

Ian Proud Playworld Systems Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Nonet T. Sykes Atlanta Beltline, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

Xavier D. Urrutia City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation San Antonio, Texas

Greg A. Weitzel, CPRP City of Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Idaho Falls, Idaho


1/4 Page SHIPPING SUPPLY SPECIALISTS 3.625” x 4.75” Color



Carol Coletta

Beverly D. Chrisman

Memphis River Parks Partnership Memphis, Tennessee

Lexington, South Carolina

Anne S. Close

Kevin Coyle

Fort Mill, South Carolina

National Wildlife Federation Washington, D.C.

James H. Evans New York, New York

Jose Felix Diaz

Rosemary Hall Evans

Ballard Partners Miami, Florida

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Earl T. Groves

Victor Dover

Gastonia, North Carolina

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning Miami, Florida

Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D. Richmond, Virginia

Richard Gulley

Harry G. Haskell, Jr.

City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department San Diego, California

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Kathryn A. Porter

Jack Kardys

Perry J. Segura

J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

New Iberia, Louisiana

Michael Kelly

Round Hill, Virginia

Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois

Eugene A. Young, CPRP

18_2442_Parks n Rec_JAN Mod: November 15, 2018 1:20 PM Print: 12/04/18 4:30:26 PM page 1 v7

Mendham, New Jersey

R. Dean Tice




Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Empathy Requires Understanding You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. — Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee Homelessness is a crisis that is not exclusive to large, urban areas, like New York City or Los Angeles. From the middle-class suburbs of the Midwest to small towns in the South, homelessness is everywhere — especially in public parks. Yet, while most people recognize it’s a growing problem, some may have broad misconceptions about the homeless population or, worse, perpetuate myths by engaging in public shaming. According to 2017 Los Angeles County data, 50,000 of its residents are classified as homeless. And, among those adults surveyed, 8 percent stated they were working, but on a part-time, seasonal or temporary basis. Additional data revealed that of those adults who were homeless with children, 27 percent said they were employed either full time or part time. Park agencies have the daunting task of easing friction between traditionally housed park goers and homeless individuals, forced to utilize these public spaces as a means of shelter. What’s more, park managers must strike a balance between addressing the health and safety concerns associated with homelessness and remaining empathetic to their predicament. But how can park professionals hope to address the homeless situation in a thoughtful, careful manner if they cannot fully grasp the how and why? Contributors Milo Neild, M.S., and Jeff Rose, Ph.D., provide a clearer picture of the intricacies of homelessness in the feature, “Homelessness in Public Parks,” on page 50. Through a series of interviews with park managers, individuals facing homelessness, police and social service providers, Neild and Rose offer greater insight along with a comprehensive list of talking points for agencies pursuing public education on homelessness. NRPA hosted an Innovation Lab in Los Angeles, in May 2017, that brought together park professionals and city officials to engage in meaningful dialogue about the challenging and complicated issue of homelessness. This is a subject that NRPA will continue to touch on in the future along with other important topics, including the opioid crisis. Opioid abuse made the list of “Top Trends in Parks and Recreation for 2019” on page 44. Marking a fourth year, NRPA’s Richard Dolesh is providing industry analysis and much-anticipated predictions of key trends impacting parks and recreation in the new year. For example, Dolesh predicts that park agencies will expand their efforts to address the opioid crisis head on and allocate funding for additional training for all staff to enhance public safety. Among the more unusual trends in 2019 would have to be pig yoga. Now, I’ve heard of downward dog, but downward pig? Do you know of some trending topics or top predictions that you would like to share with your P&R colleagues? Feel free to email Rich Dolesh at We appreciate your input and encourage you to suggest topics and issues you’d like to see us address.

GINA MULLINS-COHEN Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing Editorial Director 10

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VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLISHING, AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Gina Mullins-Cohen EXECUTIVE EDITOR Sonia Myrick EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR Suzanne Nathan PUBLICATION DESIGN Kim Mabon/Creative By Design SENIOR SALES MANAGER EASTERN REGION AND EUROPE Kip Ongstad 703.858.2174 SENIOR SALES MANAGER WESTERN REGION AND ASIA Michelle Dellner 949.248.1057 SALES COORDINATOR Meghan Fredriksen 703.858.2190 PHOTOGRAPHY or NRPA (unless otherwise noted) MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Anthony-Paul Diaz Ryan Eaker Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Michele Lemons Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis, CPRP Gil Peñalosa Paula Sliefert Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs

Let’s Create Connection Play allows us to reawaken our laughter, our connections and our community. It offers us the opportunity to access something deeper within and bring out our best. Play fuels our creativity, our imaginations and increases our sense of well-being. Play is the cure for what ails us.

Join Our Movement and experience the power of play for yourself and your community. Trademark(s) are the property of BCI Burke Company. Š BCI Burke Company 2019. All Rights Reserved. 800-356-2070

RESEARCH Time to Gauge Your Performance Take a few minutes to complete the NRPA Agency Performance Survey By Kevin Roth, Ph.D.


he new year brings hope and optimism for the future, and with that a set of goals and resolutions with which we aim to improve ourselves and the communities around us. Many of these goals focus on wellness — perhaps to be more physically active or to eat better — or lending a hand to a neighbor in need. Each of these goals and resolutions, even if not fully realized, highlight our never-ending quest to make tomorrow better than today. This quest extends to parks and recreation, and it is made possible through the gift of sharing data. By giving 15 to 30 minutes of your time, you not only will provide park and recreation agencies like yours with access to invaluable peer insight, but you also will help identify steps your agency can take to ensure that it is serving your community to the best of its ability. You can do this by making sure your agency has entered and updated its data in NRPA Park Metrics.


Parks & Recreation

Park Metrics is the most comprehensive source of data standards and insights for park and recreation agencies across the United States. We are in the final stretch of collecting 2018 data through the Agency Performance Survey. The data collected through this survey is the basis of the annual NRPA Agency Performance Review (APR) that we will include with the April issue of Parks & Recreation magazine. The APR presents a comprehen-

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sive profile of local and regional park and recreation agencies in the United States. There is no other industry benchmarking resource that provides you with more powerful data and insights to help you gauge your agency’s performance against those of its peers. This year’s report highlights the mission and characteristics of more than 1,000 park and recreation agencies. Your agency has access to a wealth of data to assist in making the most-informed decisions using peer agencies as your reference. This includes access to large agencies located in urban settings and smaller agencies that serve just a few hundred residents in a small rural town. These resources have a real impact on agency strategic planning, budgeting and staffing.

It is crucial, however, that we hear from you. The impact of Park Metrics and the Agency Performance Review can only be as robust as the amount of information you and your colleagues contribute. The basis of these resources is a 31-question survey that takes many first-time agencies less than a halfhour to complete, featuring questions that are relevant to a majority of park and recreation agencies. We have organized the questionnaire into nine different sections: • Jurisdiction (location, population, size of area served) • Agency Operations (operating expenditures, revenue sources) • Capital Budget (current year, five-year capital budget) • Personnel (FTE counts, distribution of responsibilities) • Workload (number of parks and buildings, mileage of trails, number of people served) • Agency Responsibilities (what agencies operate, maintain, contract) • Facilities (counts of facilities, athletic fields) • Activities (sports leagues, cultural offerings, out-of-school time programs) • Policies (bans on tobacco, selling of alcohol, healthy food in concessions) Agencies that have maintained Park Metrics data in recent years can refresh their data for 2018 even more quickly. All you would need to do is click on the green “Copy Data From Existing Year” button in the upper right part of the data entry page to copy a prior year’s data into the 2018 survey. From there, you can make any relevant

changes (e.g., budget, personnel, newly built sports field) without needing to enter data that has not changed recently. As an incentive for your agency to enter or update its Park Metrics data, all agencies with complete 2018 data will receive a customized Agency Performance Report that compares their agency’s performance to that of their peers. This report will help you and your colleagues make better informed decisions and help your agency be more effective and efficient. To

make sure you receive this customized Agency Performance Report later this spring, please make sure you have entered your agency’s 2018 data into Park Metrics by the end of January. After you complete the survey, check out the many resources available to you today thanks to the more than 1,000 agencies that have kept their information up to date in Park Metrics. This starts with access to the 2018 NRPA Agen-

cy Performance Review report and 22 interactive charts on our website ( that present all the insights of the report cross-tabbed by agency characteristics, such as: • Acres of parkland maintained by agency • Budget size • Jurisdiction population and type • Number of FTEs • Number of parks maintained • Population per square mile • Region of the United States Additionally, you can take the analysis even further with a custom reporting tool that allows you to design and compare your agency against its peer group. Each of these valuable resources is only further enhanced when you complete the 2018 Agency Performance Survey in NRPA Park Metrics today. With a half-hour of your time, you and your agency can have a real, lasting impact on parks and recreation throughout our nation. Visit and select “Enter Your Agency’s Data” to begin inputting or updating your agency information today. If you need assistance, contact Greg Manns (gmanns@industryinsights. com) or Melissa May (mmay@ In the coming weeks, we will be putting the final touches on the 2019 NRPA Agency Performance Review. It just would not be the same report without hearing from your agency. Please let us know how we can help fulfill this resolution. Kevin Roth, Ph.D., is NRPA’s Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology (

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NRPA Park Pulse In this month’s poll, we asked two questions:

Question 1: Should communities have

Question 2: Do you know what

designated areas where plants support pollinators, like honey bees and butterflies?

actions you can take to help the conservation of pollinators?

95% of Americans agree communities should have designated areas to support pollinators

66% of Americans are NOT very confident in knowing what they can do to help pollinators


Each month, through a poll of Americans that is focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. Questions span from the serious to the more lighthearted.

Visit for more information. The National Recreation and Park Association survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,002 U.S. adults ages 18+, August 30th and September 6th, 2018, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.

Are You a Five Star Agency?

Measuring Your Agency’s Performance Has Never Been So Easy NRPA Park Metrics is the most comprehensive source of data benchmarks and insights for park and recreation agencies. Use NRPA Park Metrics to easily build customized reports and compare your agency to others to gain more funding support, improve operations and better serve your community.


COMMUNITY CENTER The ULI Case for Open Space Report Urban Land Institute calls for more private investment in community-accessible open spaces By Reema Singh


he Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently released a report that highlights the business case for real estate professionals to incorporate parks and open spaces into development projects. The Case for Open Space: Why the Real Estate Industry Should Invest in Parks and Open Spaces ( was created by ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, in collaboration with ULI’s Sustainable Development Product Council members. Members aimed to provide a range of ideas and inspiration for real estate developers as they consider whether to invest in public open spaces. principal at SWA Group. “When undertaken thoughtfully, the creation of privately owned or operated, community-accessible open


“The research points to a winning formula,” says Elizabeth Shreeve, the chair of the ULI Sustainable Development Council and


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spaces can provide equitable access to resources, strengthen communities, reduce execution risk and contribute to a solid bottom line for real estate investment.” To build the case, ULI researchers first identified roughly 30 projects across the United States, where private-sector actors contributed to the development, operations, mainLevy Park in Houston, Texas, receives funding for maintenance through a private real estate firm — an agreement that was made with the city.

The ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative: Around the world, communities face pressing health challenges related to the built environment. For many years, ULI and its members have been active players in discussions and projects that make the link between human health and development; we know that health is a core component of thriving communities. The ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative ( is building on that work with a multifaceted program — including research and publications, convenings and advisory activities — to leverage the power of the Institute’s global networks to shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities.

tenance and/or programming of the park or open space. Stakeholder interviews were then conducted for a subset of projects representing a range of scales and types. These conversations explored how project leaders who pursued various models for partnerships, funding, zoning and local engagement ultimately allowed developers to support project success while delivering significant community benefits. Through peer-reviewed research and insights from developers, public officials and others working at the intersection of open space and real estate, the report identifies four compelling cases for developers to invest in open space: • Case 1: By investing in equitable access to parks and open space, developers can help improve community health and wellness, boost economic development and enhance a project’s financial success. • Case 2: Developer-supported parks and open spaces can help mitigate the impact of insufficient public resources for parks, thereby providing communities with access to open space while enhancing long-term real estate value. • Case 3: Community-driven programming supported by the private sector can activate open spaces, foster social interaction and strengthen the overall value and marketability of associated projects. • Case 4: Creating or funding parks and open spaces can help developers secure community buy-in, public-sector support and valuable zoning incentives in communities where these incentives are available. These cases are further illustrated through project examples where private-sector agents supported the integration of open space into their developments and experienced returns on their investments. Projects include: • Hunter’s Point South: Queens, New York

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Developer-supported open spaces, like Grand Park in Los Angeles, California, provide communities with access to open space, while enhancing long-term real estate value.

• Levy Park: Houston, Texas • Grand Park: Los Angeles, California • Guthrie Green: Tulsa, Oklahoma • Solaris Plaza: Vail, Colorado While the report advocates for more private-sector involvement, industry leaders acknowledge that strong collaboration between public and private sectors are critical to a park’s success.

The ULI Sustainable Development Council (SDC): The Sustainable Development Council ( able-development-council-sdc) aims to accelerate the adoption and implementation of sustainability, resiliency and health across the real estate industry. The council provides a forum for exchange of emerging best practices, including planning, financing, entitlements, design, construction and operational aspects of projects that advance triple bottom-line benefits, while fostering more sustainable built environments.


Parks & Recreation

Levy Park, for instance, a 5.9acre neighborhood park in Houston, Texas, receives funding for maintenance through a private real estate firm — an agreement that was made with the city of Houston. “The public-private partnership between Midway and the city of Houston’s Upper Kirby District Redevelopment Authority generates ongoing funding for park operations — a great benefit for the people in the surrounding area and an essential investment in the success of Midway’s adjacent projects,” says Ann Taylor, senior vice president of Midway. After its redevelopment, Levy Park became the central component for an 11-acre urban-activity center that now boasts around 10,000 visitors a week, up from only 75 visitors before redevelopment. The park was selected as a 2018 ULI Urban Open Space Award winner.

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Rachel MacCleery, senior vice president of content at ULI, emphasized the essential role of public sector and parks departments in this realm when first unveiling the report with ULI members at the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis. “Parks departments and their government partners — including planning and economic development departments — are critical pieces of the puzzle and play key roles in implementing successful parks projects that involve real estate developers and the private sector,” she explains. “Early conversations about potential opportunities to integrate parks and open space in development projects and win-win approaches are essential.” As part of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, the Building Healthy Places Initiative is building on this research by taking a closer look at successful models of cross-sector partnerships, funding mechanisms, zoning strategies and community engagement. Findings from this research will be shared with NRPA and ULI members alike in the hopes of providing public and private landuse professionals with best practices for providing equitable access to high-quality parks around the country. ULI is grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its support of this research.

Reema Singh is a Manager for The Urban Land Institute (


Whether you want to make a bigger impact on your community, keep your expertise fresh, or improve your professional status, CPRP certification will open the door to more and better opportunities. Staying informed of recent and new trends beyond the internals of our departments sends a message to the communities that we serve - hey, not only do we hold the degrees but we’re certified! Daniel Stines, CPRP Parks & Recreation Director, Town of Harrisburg, NC

Become a Certified Park and Recreation Professional Apply by February 28 to Get a FREE CPRP Prep Course (up to $250 value)

To learn more, visit

MEMBER TO MEMBER Connecting the Generations By Lauren Quinn, CPRP; Sonya Malinowski, CPRP; and Sandra Olson, CPRP



alk into Lincoln Park Cultural Center in Chicago, and it will initially feel like any other field house, not only in Chicago, but around the country. It has a dance studio, various art studios, early childhood center and all-purpose rooms centered around a small lobby that’s frequently buzzing with patrons. Pick up the class schedule and you’ll see many of the usual suspects: senior/ adult fitness, preschool, art classes, afterschool programs and teen club. This type of programming segments the population by age group, rather than commingling people of different ages in the classes.

20 Parks & Recreation

If you had the opportunity to linger in the lobby for a prolonged time, however, you may start to notice something special at Lincoln Park. People don’t only say, “Hi,” in passing to be friendly; they actually know each other. A few years back, the staff members of Lincoln Park noticed that patrons of all ages of-

Teens and older adults participate in a yoga class at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center in Chicago.

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Although a little hesistant at first, teen club members have embraced the idea of participating in events with older adults.

ten crossed paths in the small lobby space, but they were not getting to know one another. The staff members realized this presented them with a unique opportunity to try to connect the generations. The Lincoln Park Neighborhood is a 3.2-square-mile area with 34,850 households located just north of downtown Chicago. It is a neighborhood of peaceful parks with tree-lined residential areas, trendy businesses, and upscale and local dining options. According to the 2010 Census, the Lincoln Park Neighborhood demographics are as follows: • 11% of residents are over the age of 65 • 12% of residents are under the age of 18 • The average household size is 1.8 • 50% of households have a single individual • 6.5% of total households are people more than 65 years old and living alone (for a total of 2,021 households) The Park as ‘Family’ This information about the area’s household makeup supported the idea that park programs could help to make the neighborhood feel more like a community. Marie, a parent of teens and herself a park patron for more than 15 years, articulated the concept perfectly: “Not having any family in Chicago, the park became my family. It is where I made some of the greatest friends.” The field house had

the space and the audience; it just needed a reason to bring the different groups together. The teen club embraced the idea of participating in events with the older adults. The initial teensenior multigenerational event was a blues bus tour, during which the teen club sponsored food and refreshments. The event took place on a day off from school, and the teens earned volunteer hours for attending. The older adults attended because blues was a topic they were interested in learning about. Both groups were initially a little hesitant to approach one another. Through an icebreaker activity, everyone shared what high school

“Not having any family in Chicago, the park became my family. It is where I made some of the greatest friends.” they attended and one of their extracurricular activities. Soon, the two groups realized that many of the participants had attended the same high school, albeit 50 or more years apart. The older adults talked about how limited their sports and afterschool programming were, and the teens got a glimpse of what their high school was like 50 years ago. Making this simple connection helped to get the conversations flowing.

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The initial teen–senior event, a blues bus tour, featured something for both groups — blues, a topic of interest for the older adults, and volunteer hours for the teens.

“My expectations changed with the seniors. You don’t expect them to do a lot of stuff, but then they actually end up doing it. One time we played dodgeball and they kept getting people out left and right.” 22 Parks & Recreation

Building on the success of the first event, park staff continued to offer other multigenerational programing on select Tuesday evenings during the teen club, as that created a guaranteed teen audience. Some of the special activities offered have included yoga, dancing, plays, potlucks and games. As these groups started to interact, stronger community bonds were formed, fostering the breakdown of various stereotypes. “My expectations changed with the seniors. You don’t expect them to do a lot of stuff, but then they actually end up doing it. One time we played dodgeball and they kept getting people out left

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and right,” says Sophia, a teen participant. “It was enjoyable. You have a little competition. It makes you feel younger and act young. I live in a senior development, and it is wonderful to have the diversity of young people,” says Camille, a senior participant. The park has seen increased enrollment, held community-inspired special events, and increased confidence and leadership skills, particularly with our teenage participants. Park staff has seen this combining of classes as a success not only for teens and older adults, but also for other age levels. Older adults are now invit-

ed to participate in preschool performances and special events. The kids enjoy having people interested in what they are doing and vice versa. Some preschoolers watch the senior fitness classes and cheer their “favorite” seniors on. These programs have been heartily embraced at Lincoln and the current focus is on how to keep them going. With the groups tending toward different schedules — teens are available after school and seniors prefer daytime — programming can be a challenge. Daytime events on days off school, weekends or holidays have been a way around this issue. Offering something the older adults really want to participate in, such

as yoga, will entice them to come to the park at night. In addition, it is important that events are staffed by enthusiastic people who are familiar and comfortable with both age groups. Another challenge has been finding outside groups willing and able to work with all ages. Sometimes it is difficult for community and art partners to understand that older adults have the desire and ability to do something they have never done. Lincoln Park Cultural Center has found that holding events with different age groups has created a stronger community. Doing so has also inspired people of all ages to step outside their comfort zone and to grow as individuals and as

Lincoln Park Cultural Center has found that holding events with different age groups has created a stronger community. a group. For park professionals, connecting various groups can be rewarding and beneficial to the community at large. When created in the context of already-successful programs, it becomes a much more attainable goal. Lauren Quinn, CPRP, is the Center Director for Lincoln Park Cultural Center ( Sonya “Sam” Malinowski, CPRP, is the Playground Supervisor for Oz Park ( Sandra Olson, CPRP, is the Area Manager, North Region for the Chicago Park District (

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Scenic view along the Ammonoosuc River in Littleton, New Hampshire.

Federal Money: Funding for Park and Recreation Projects of all Sizes By Kyle Simpson


ne of the best parts of working for an association is speaking with members from across the country about the important work they are doing for their local communities. It’s even better when I get to travel to different locations to see their work firsthand. Several communities have welcomed the Public Policy team over the past year, from small towns to major metropolitan areas. These travels and frequent conversations with you, the members of NRPA, have sparked my excitement and interest in the various ways departments of all sizes are using federal government resources to make projects happen. Following are highlights from a few departments of various sizes and some of the federal money they have received for park and recreation projects.

Littleton, New Hampshire Nestled along the Ammonoosuc River in Northern New Hampshire, near the border of Vermont, is the idyllic town of Littleton, New Hampshire. With around 6,000 people, as of the last census, Littleton is full of small-town charm and pride, but certainly punches above its weight for access 24 Parks & Recreation

to federal resources. While visiting Littleton this fall as part of a conference, I was struck not only by the fall beauty of this community, but also by how much it has going on for a town of its size. Littleton is a prime example of how small communities can leverage federal dollars to benefit its residents. Its park and recre-

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ation department consists of its director, Chris Wilkins, a full-time groundskeeper and a part-time, year-round employee. Wilkins and Town Manager Andrew Dorsett work extensively to identify and seek out federal funds. Wilkins also shared that although much of the work is done by him and the town manager, he does enlist the help of a grants firm in the process of identifying opportunities and applying. Recently, Littleton received a $200,000 grant, through the Land and Water Conversation Fund (LWCF) State Assistance Program, for a health park that will allow its population to get outside and active. While some communities struggle with the matching funds required by the LWCF, Littleton has leveraged the federal support to get the

local support needed to participate in the program. As with many federal programs, each state has its own process for applying for these programs. More information can be found by contacting your state’s recreation or natural resources office. Park and recreation centers are one of the largest providers of summer meal programs for youth nationwide. Littleton is also a summer meal program site through a federally funded program, called the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), that is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. During the summer at two different sites, this small town serves more than 100 meals a day to youth under the age of 18, including the young counselors who work with kids.  Littleton proves that no matter your size, SFSP is a great program for your department to consider if you have kids in your recreation centers and parks throughout the summer. Offering nutritional support to youth and even seasonal staff under age 18 allows the communities you serve to stay active and healthy over the summer months. However, SFSP programs can only be set up in eligible areas, so before contacting the state agency responsible for this program in your state, visit sfsp/how-become-sponsor for initial details. 

Tacoma, Washington Tacoma, on Washington’s Puget Sound, is home to an estimated 208,100 people. It may not be as large as Houston, Chicago or New


Youth play basketball at the new Eastside Community Center in Tacoma, Washington.

York, but this growing city, through its Metro Parks Tacoma, has done some amazing things with the help of the federal government. One special project is a $32 million community center for the east side community of Tacoma. The Eastside Community Center was the idea of a young person whose life was tragically cut short by gun violence ( ing-billy-rays-dream-a-reality/). The community worked with Metro Parks Tacoma to push for funding for this center from all levels, including the federal government. After a meeting with U.S. Representative Denny Heck, the congressman suggested the community consider the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program. Established in 2000, NMTC allows individuals and corporations to invest in community development entities in exchange for a credit against their federal income tax. These community development entities then use these funds to provide loans to communities and businesses in low-income communities. The benefit to the low-income community comes in the form of better loan rates and terms, along with more flexibility than would

be provided on the normal market. Metro Parks Tacoma was able to use $7 million in NMTC funding for the Eastside Community Center. This funding was just a portion of the overall money needed, but the department was able to leverage the federal funds to secure other funding streams. Littleton and Metro Parks are just a few examples of how departments of various sizes are making federal dollars work for their communities. The available resources don’t stop at the examples mentioned here. Community Development Block Grants, FEMA Disaster Mitigation Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund are just a few examples of other federal programs that may be available to your department. It also doesn’t take a giant department with multiple people spending the entire day looking for federal resources, but it may take a bit of digging. The NRPA Connect message board and Public Policy team are great resources for your department, as is talking with others about the federal resources they’ve used. Kyle Simpson is an NRPA Senior Government Affairs Manager (

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City Restricted Park Food Sharing with Homeless By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


n the case of Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 901 F.3d 11235, 2018 U.S. App. Lexis 23562 (11th Cir. 8/22/2018), plaintiff Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs (FLFNB), a nonprofit organization, alleged a city of Fort Lauderdale ordinance and a related park rule within the City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department violated the First Amendment. Facts of the Case FLFNB, which is affiliated with the international organization Food Not Bombs, engages in peaceful political direct action. It conducts weekly food sharing events at Stranahan Park, located in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Stranahan Park, an undisputed public forum, is known in the community as a location where the homeless tend to congregate and, according to FLFNB, “has traditionally been a battleground

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over the City’s attempts to reduce the visibility of homelessness.” At these events, FLFNB distributes vegetarian or vegan food, free of charge, to anyone who chooses to participate. FLFNB does not serve food as a charity, but rather to communicate its message: “society can end hunger and poverty if we redirect our collective resources from the military and war and that food is a human right, not a privilege, which society has a responsibili-

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ty to provide for all.” Providing food in a visible public space and partaking in meals that are shared with others is an act of political solidarity meant to convey the organization’s message. FLFNB sets up a table underneath a gazebo in the park, distributes food, and its members (or, as the city describes them, volunteers) eat together with all the participants, many of whom are homeless individuals residing in the downtown Fort Lauderdale area. FLFNB’s setup includes a banner with the name “Food Not Bombs” and the organization’s logo — a fist holding a carrot — and individuals associated with the organization pass out literature during the event.

City Ordinance On October 22, 2014, the city enacted Ordinance C-14-42, which amended its existing Uniform Land Development Regulations. Under the Ordinance, “social services” include: …any services provided to the public to address public welfare and health such as, but not limited to, the provision of food; hygiene care; group rehabilitative or recovery assistance, or any combination thereof; rehabilitative or recovery programs utilizing counseling, self-help or other treatment of assistance; and day shelter or any combination of same. The ordinance also regulates “social service facilities,” which include an “outdoor food distribution center.” An “outdoor food distribution center” is defined as: …any location or site temporarily used to furnish meals to members of the public without cost or at a very low cost as a social service as defined herein. A food distribution center shall not be considered a restaurant. The ordinance imposes restrictions on hours of operation and contains requirements regarding food handling and safety. Depending on the specific zoning district, a social service facility may be permitted, not permitted or require a conditional use permit. Social service facilities operating in a permitted use zone are still subject to review by the city’s development review committee. Stranahan Park is zoned as a “Regional Activity Center – City Center” and requires a conditional use permit. To receive a conditional use permit, applicants must demonstrate that

their social service facilities will meet a list of requirements set out in the ordinance. Park Rule The city’s “Parks and Recreation Rules and Regulations” also regulated social services. In particular, Park Rule 2.2 provided: Parks shall be used for recreation and relaxation, ornament, light and air for the general public. Parks shall not be used for business or social service purposes unless authorized pursuant to a written agreement with the City. As used herein, social services shall include, but not be limited to, the provision of food, clothing, shelter or medical care to persons in order to meet their physical needs. The city had voluntarily not enforced Ordinance C-14-42 and Park Rule 2.2 since February 2015. FLFNB LAWSUIT FLFNB filed a lawsuit in federal district court contending: “the Ordinance and Park Rule 2.2 violated its rights to free speech and free association guaranteed by the First Amendment.” (The First Amendment applies to the federal government but is made applicable to state and local governments through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.) In response, the city claimed the food sharing events at Stranahan Park were not expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. Specifically, the city argued “the act of feeding is not inherently communicative of FLFNB’s intended, unique, and particularized message.” The federal district court agreed and granted summa-

ry judgment in favor of the city. In so doing, the district court agreed with the city that FLFNB’s outdoor food sharing was not sufficiently expressive conduct to warrant First Amendment protection. FLFNB appealed. Accordingly, the issue before the federal appeals court was whether FLFNB’s food sharing activities were indeed expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. On appeal, the city claimed FLFNB’s food sharing events were not inherently expressive conduct in the absence of “explanatory speech, such as the signs and banners.”

“The First Amendment guarantees all people the right to engage not only in pure speech, but expressive conduct as well.” Protected Expressive Conduct As noted by the federal appeals court, constitutional protection for freedom of speech “does not end at the spoken or written word.” On the contrary, the court acknowledged: “The First Amendment guarantees all people the right to engage not only in pure speech, but expressive conduct as well.” As described by the federal appeals court, the U.S. Supreme Court had formulated the following “two-part inquiry to determine whether conduct is sufficiently expressive under the First Amendment”: (1) whether an intent to convey a particularized message was present; and (2) whether in

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food sharing in a visible public space was “meant to convey that all persons are equal, regardless of socio-economic status, and that everyone should have access to food as a human right.”

...the appeals court concluded the district court had erroneously “relied on the notion that the conduct must be combined with other speech to provide meaning.” the surrounding circumstances the likelihood was great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it. The appeals court, however, acknowledged the “particularized message” would not necessarily require a “narrow, succinctly articulable message” to qualify for constitutional protection. According to the court, such constitutional protection is not “confined to expressions conveying a particularized message” because the First Amendment unquestionably applies to media and other modes of expression, in28 Parks & Recreation

cluding works without a clearly articulable message, e.g., abstract art, music and literature. Most significant, “in determining whether conduct is expressive” to qualify for First Amendment protection, the federal appeals court would determine “whether the reasonable person would interpret it as some sort of message, not whether an observer would necessarily infer a specific message.” (Emphasis of Court) Food Sharing “Message” Based on the record in this case, the federal appeals court had “no doubt that FLFNB intended to convey a certain message”: [T]he message is that society can end hunger and poverty if we redirect our collective resources from the military and war and that food is a human right, not a privilege, which society has a responsibility to provide for all. Further, according to FLFNB,

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Context Is Important According to the federal appeals court, the “critical question” in determining whether this particular food distribution or sharing event was expressive activity protected by the First Amendment was “whether the reasonable person would interpret FLFNB’s conduct as some sort of message.” In making this determination, the federal appeals court noted: “the context in which a symbol is used for purposes of expression is important, for the context may give meaning to the symbol.” In particular, the appeals court noted: “the circumstances surrounding an event often help set the dividing line between activity that is sufficiently expressive and similar activity that is not.” For example, the court found context and circumstances would separate “the physical activity of walking from the expressive conduct associated with a picket line or a parade.” In the opinion of the appeals court, the district court had erred in finding FLFNB’s outdoor food sharing did not convey a “particularized message unless it is combined with other speech, such as that involved in FLFNB’s demonstrations.” Specifically, the appeals court found the district court’s focus on FLFNB’s particularized message, or lack thereof, was mistaken because “the inquiry is whether the reasonable person would interpret FLFNB’s

food sharing events as some sort of message.” Moreover, the appeals court found the district court had “failed to consider the context of FLFNB’s food sharing events.” In so doing, the appeals court concluded the district court had erroneously “relied on the notion that the conduct must be combined with other speech to provide meaning.” Expressive Circumstances In this instance, the appeals court found “the surrounding circumstances would lead the reasonable observer to view the conduct as conveying some sort of message.” As cited by the appeals court, the following circumstances would place “FLFNB’s food sharing events on the expressive side of the ledger”: First, FLFNB sets up tables and banners (including one with its logo) and distributes literature at its events. This distinguishes its sharing of food with the public from relatives or friends simply eating together in the park. Second, the food sharing events are open to everyone, and the organization’s members or volunteers invite all who are present to participate and to share in their meal at the same time. That, in and of itself, has social implications.  Third, FLFNB holds its food sharing in Stranahan Park, a public park near city government buildings. The parties agree that Stranahan Park is a traditional public forum. That agreement is not surprising, for, public parks have, ‘time out of mind, been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.’ 

Fourth, the record demonstrates without dispute that the treatment of the City’s homeless population is an issue of concern in the community.

Fifth, it matters that FLFNB uses the sharing of food as the means for conveying its message, for the history of a particular symbol or type of conduct is instructive

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in determining whether the reasonable observer may infer some message when viewing it. Homeless Issue The city had admitted on the record that its elected officials held a public workshop “on the Homeless Issue” in January 2014. That workshop included several “homeless issues, including public feedings in the City’s parks and public areas.” The city’s homeless population attracted local news coverage beginning years before that 2014 workshop. In the opinion of the federal appeals court, “local discussion regarding the City’s treatment of the

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homeless was significant” because it provided “background for FLFNB’s events, particularly in light of the undisputed fact that many of the participants are homeless.” As characterized by the court, this background information increased “the likelihood that the reasonable observer would understand that FLFNB’s food sharing sought to convey some message.” Based on the agreed-on facts in this case, the federal appeals court found “FLFNB’s food sharing events are more than a picnic in the park.” Under the circumstances, the court found FLFNB had clearly established an intent to “express an idea through activity.” More-

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over, the appeals court found “the reasonable observer would interpret its food sharing events as conveying some sort of message.” Explanatory Speech In granting summary judgment in favor of the city, the federal district court had determined “explanatory speech is necessary” for an event to warrant First Amendment protection. Accordingly, the “critical question” on appeal was “whether the explanatory speech is necessary for the reasonable observer to perceive a message from the conduct.” Citing precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal appeals court found explanatory speech

was not necessary for the reasonable observer to perceive a message from the conduct. Moreover, the court noted the context would determine whether explanatory speech, or the lack thereof, would create expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. Some Sort of Message In this instance, the federal appeals court found “the presence of banners, a table, and a gathering of people sharing food with all those present in a public park is sufficiently expressive” to warrant First Amendment protection: The reasonable observer at FLFNB’s events would infer some sort of message, e.g., one of community and care for all citizens. Any ‘explanatory speech’ — the text and logo contained on the banners — is not needed to convey that message. Whether those banners said ‘Food Not Bombs’ or ‘We Eat With the Homeless’ adds nothing of legal significance to the First Amendment analysis. The words ‘Food Not Bombs’ on those banners might be required for onlookers to infer FLFNB’s specific message that public money should be spent on providing food for the poor rather than funding the military, but it is enough if the reasonable observer would interpret the food sharing events as conveying ‘some sort of message.’ The appeals court, therefore, rejected the city’s argument on appeal that First Amendment protection would require evidence that “the reasonable observer would infer a particularized message.” As cited by the appeals court, U.S. Supreme Court precedent had clearly rejected the notion that a “narrow, succinct

ly articulable message is not a condition of constitutional protection.” Conclusion Based on the “nature of FLFNB’s activity, combined with the factual context and environment in which it was undertaken,” the federal appeals court concluded FLFNB’s outdoor food sharing was indeed expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. As a result, the federal appeals court reversed the district court’s earlier grant of summary judgment in favor of the city. On remand, the federal district court would conduct further trial proceedings to “determine whether the ordinance and park rule violate the First Amendment.” In so doing, the federal district court would determine whether the ordinance and park rule permit requirements imposed an unreasonable burden on

FLFNB’s expressive conduct. To pass constitutional muster, the city would have to prove the permitting requirements under the ordinance and park rule were a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on FLFNB’s expressive conduct necessary to achieve a significant governmental interest. Further, on remand, the federal district court would also consider FLFNB’s claim that the challenged ordinance and park rule were unconstitutionally “vague.” A law or regulation is unconstitutionally vague when it lacks sufficient clarity to put the reasonable person on notice of what is considered unlawful. James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism at George Mason University ( Webpage with link to law review articles archive (1982 to present): http://

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Recreation and Resilience

Hunters Point South Park includes nearly 1.5 acres of flood-resistant wetlands and a 30-foot-tall cantilevered viewing platform.

New York City Parks performs a superb juggling act By Wende David


bout 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City. Because the city’s population is so dense, residents rely heavily on public spaces, especially parks, for their open space needs. And, meeting the varied and sometimes conflicting needs of 8.6 million people is a particularly challenging job for NYC Parks planners who — much like strategically coordinated stage performers — successfully manage to keep all the plates spinning atop precariously balanced poles.

Parks are uniquely positioned to address resiliency because these are the places where infrastructure, social connectivity and engagement meet. NRPA staff recently visited NYC Parks to learn how it is dealing with climate change impacts and to gather ideas for building climate resil32 Parks & Recreation

ient parks. NYC Parks staff are not only juggling a regular workload of required maintenance and capital improvements on 30,000 acres of parklands and 160 miles of park coastlines, but are also proactively working to buffer unforeseeable climate hazards through an innovative, community-centered approach to creating climate-resilient parks in an incredibly large urban city. Alda Chan, project administrator for

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planning at NYC Parks, explains its people-centered approach: “Parks are uniquely positioned to address resiliency because these are the places where infrastructure, social connectivity and engagement meet. Resilient spaces are not defined by hard infrastructure alone: robust ecologies and healthy and engaged community members are equally important. By creating inclusive, accessible, high-performing and well-connected spaces, we can help support resilient neighborhoods.” Post-Hurricane Sandy Projects NYC Parks’ down-to-business, do-something mentality toward climate resilience is directly tied to the fallout of Hurricane Sandy, which struck New York City in



NYC Parks uses predictive climate data to map and plan for future extreme flood events.








NYC Flood Zones with Sea Level Rise

NYC Park in Flood Zone by 2100s

See list for park names

Miles 0


2050s 100-Year Flood Zone

NYC Park




a comprehensive vision and wish list of future park projects. When the boardwalk restoration project was completed under budget, NYC Parks was able to redirect the “underrun dollars” toward this wish list to further build community resilience through seven additional park projects. The Army Corps is planning to supplement the protective new boardwalk by building a series of groins along the 5-mile stretch. These engineered groins are long, narrow structures built out into the water from a beach to prevent beach erosion.

2015 100-Year Flood Zone

2080s 100-Year Flood Zone

Data Source: NYC Parks, FEMA 2015 Preliminrary FIRM, NPCC 2014


2012. Unprecedented storm surge and flooding caused severe property damage, major transportation and communications disruptions, and dozens of fatalities. Hurricane Sandy also devastated New York City parklands: Trees, trails, athletic fields and critical park infrastructure were submerged and demolished by the salty floodwaters and storm surge. The rebuilding and resiliency planning that followed the disaster provides unique insight for park and recreation professionals, planners and community leaders seeking guidance on building resilience in their own communities. NYC Parks has been working in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more than a decade on studies and shoreline resilience concepts to help protect vulnerable coastal communities. But Sandy spurred NYC Parks into action. Using FEMA Disaster & Recovery Funds from Hurricane Sandy, NYC Parks successfully rebuilt 5.5 miles of boardwalk in just three years along the Rockaways, a narrow peninsula between Jamaica Bay and the New York Harbor in Queens. Based on predictive storm-surge data, the reconstructed boardwalk was elevated and designed to minimize future storm surge and flood risk, while fully integrating updated recreation elements and elevated facilities. As part of the restoration, NYC Parks led a community planning effort to survey area residents about other park amenities and improvements, which resulted in

Using FEMA Disaster & Recovery Funds from Hurricane Sandy, NYC Parks successfully rebuilt 5.5 miles of boardwalk. The Shape of Resiliency and Flood Protection NRPA staff toured two projects, on opposite sides of the East River: Hunters Point South Park and the East River Park. Earlier this summer, Phase II at Hunters Point South Park was completed. Phase I, which features active recreation

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Resource NYC Parks’ Design and Planning for Flood Resiliency: Guidelines for NYC Parks ( planning-and-building/planning/resiliency-plans/ flood-resiliency) is an interdisciplinary manual that was released in November 2017 to provide guidance for developing and renovating coastally resilient waterfront parks. These guidelines, specifically tailored for NYC Parks with the hope that other planners, designers, consultant firms, agencies, communities and homeowners can use them as a reference for coastally resilient park planning and design: • Define technical terms and explain concepts applicable to coastal resiliency and waterfront park development • Provide checklists that outline special considerations for waterfront park planning and design processes • Examine different waterfront park types and recommend best practices for each • Suggest plants, materials and design details best suited for coastal conditions • Provide additional resources for those who wish to learn more

facilities like basketball courts, a dog run and a playground, had just been constructed when Hurricane Sandy tested it with a 4-foot-high surge of water. It survived, and Phase II was developed as a more passive recreation space, anchored by a modern, nautical-inspired cantilevered overlook and terraced seating with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. The park includes salt-tolerant wetlands at the river’s edge, a kayak launch, pathways sloping upward to elevated green space, waterproof seating and a noticeable lack of ground lighting near the waterfront — all elements specifically designed to withstand storm-surge flooding. On the Manhattan side of the river were several athletic fields, recreation facilities and unique park amenities that make up the long, linear East River Park. Its promenade was completely sub-

East River Park will be elevated and new floodwalls constructed as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project along the Manhattan waterfront.

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merged during Hurricane Sandy, as storm surge pushed water from the waterfront to inland streets in a 10-mile perimeter throughout Lower Manhattan. It devastated the Financial District and impacted nearly 100,000 low-income, elderly and disabled city residents. The East Side Coastal Resiliency project aims to reduce similar future flood risk in this dense and vulnerable neighborhood. Inspired by the “Big U” concept from a post-Sandy design competition, the project wrestles with how resiliency and flood protection can address dynamic and sometimes divergent community needs along 2.4 miles of urban waterfront and parks. The design has evolved as a better understanding of site conditions and construction impacts; the project now explores elevating the entire length of park to incorporate a natural sloped berm directly at the

Hunters Point South Park includes a naturalized waterfront promenade and a kayak launch to access the East River.

river’s edge as opposed to building a concrete floodwall adjacent to the FDR Drive, one of the busiest highways in the nation. This shift reduces construction disruption and noise in the neighborhood and reduces the construction timeline. The updated design maintains the same level of flood protection for the neighborhood but also extends resiliency to the park features, ensuring protection for one of the largest outdoor recreational complexes in Manhattan. “I am resistant to the idea that heavily used, active park space should be sacrificed for flooding as a key resilience strategy,” says Mark A. Focht, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of NYC Parks. “Planning and budgeting for repeated, but unpredictable, damage to park facilities creates a tremendous challenge for park staff. It also leaves New Yorkers without their beloved parklands after a natural disaster, which is a critical time when they desperately want to get back to normal.” The new strategy not only reduces costs from future post-event recovery, but also ensures that the park can quickly come back online after extreme flood events. Moving Forward In the “City That Never Sleeps,” NYC Parks is leading the way in planning, designing and activating public parklands to buffer future climate impacts and holistically support the neighborhoods they serve. These park professionals are experienced at juggling many delicate things because, despite what may come in New York City, the show must go on.

As Americans experience the effects of climate change and extreme weather hazards more frequently and intensely than ever before, the urgency escalates for parks to step up as solution providers in building community resilience. Through its Climate Resilient Parks Initiative, NRPA aims to build the knowledge, skills and leadership capacity of park and recreation professionals to effectively contribute to national and community efforts that protect and prepare residents for the impacts of climate change.

In the “City That Never Sleeps,” NYC Parks is leading the way in planning, designing and activating public parklands to buffer future climate impacts and holistically support the neighborhoods they serve. Wende David is NRPA’s Conservation Development Manager (

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Brightly colored mini-soccer pitches provide accessible, quality play spaces for organized programs or pick-up games.

Fostering Healthier Communities by Creating Soccer Play Spaces By Ed Foster-Simeon


mid recent discussions about the troubling decline in youth sports participation, there is one fact that is often overlooked: too many children and families don’t have safe places to play in their neighborhoods.

According to The Trust for Public Land, 1 in 3 Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk — or a half-mile — of their home. That’s 100 million people without easy access to a place where they can be active. At a time when, according to the Centers for Disease Control

According to The Trust for Public Land, 1 in 3 Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk — or a half-mile — of their home. 36 Parks & Recreation

and Prevention, 1 in 5 schoolaged children are obese and 71 percent of youth do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, creating safe places to play where children live and go to school is imperative. Unfortunately, the problem is magnified for children living in underserved communities who are more than four times as likely to lack recreational facilities. The barriers that can prohibit children from participating in sports only add to other obstacles that families in underserved

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communities often face, such as lack of access to healthy foods. Mini-Pitches Offer Creative Solution At the U.S. Soccer Foundation, we’ve been working for several years to reduce barriers to the sport. Most recently, we’ve focused on creating access to playing spaces in underserved communities that have traditionally lacked large open spaces and the funding to build and maintain full-sized fields. The solution we’ve identified: transforming small, underutilized areas into mini-soccer pitches. These brightly-colored minipitches provide a quality playing surface for both organized soccer programs and pick-up games. The


H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S

new spaces — created in areas that were previously dilapidated or simply not used — transform the look and feel of communities, help change safety perceptions and build neighborhood cohesion. Each time I visit a mini-pitch, I’m elated to see the number of girls and boys playing on the spaces. But, I’m not surprised. When you remove barriers and make opportunities to play accessible, incredible things can happen. That’s why we set the ambitious goal to create 1,000 mini-pitches with our partners by 2026. We want neighborhoods everywhere in the United States to have a soccer mini-pitch to play on, just like many neighborhoods have basketball and tennis courts. And, we’re well on our way. Since 2016, we’ve built 150 mini-pitches in communities across the county.

Parks and Recreation’s Instrumental Role in Increasing Access to Play Another major factor in why U.S. Soccer has been successful with this initiative can be attributed to our strong partnerships with many park and recreation departments,

The addition of mini-pitches to park and recreation facilities has reinvigorated play in areas where people weren’t using the existing spaces.


Creating 100 Play Spaces with Target The movement has taken off thanks to corporate partners, like Target, that have invested in this initiative. As part of a larger commitment to youth soccer, Target teamed up with us to build 100 mini-pitches across the United States by 2020. This past year, we unveiled new play spaces in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa. By turning play deserts into safe playing spaces, we’re creating more opportunities for youth to get involved in the sport, play with their friends and be more physically active.

Youth participating in U.S. Soccer activities at Eastwood Park in Houston.

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H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S

Prior to the creation of these mini-pitches at Eastwood Park, it was hard to find a high-quality field that was open to the public.

since they have public spaces that can be easily converted into mini-pitches. The addition of mini-pitches to park and recreation facilities has reinvigorated play in areas where people weren’t using the existing spaces. Why? Soccer can

Due to their size, mini-pitches can easily be created in pocket parks to maximize access to play within a limited space. be played by everyone. The sport attracts girls and boys, adults and children. In short, the mini-pitches match the evolving interests and needs of communities. Due to their size, mini-pitches can easily be created in pock38 Parks & Recreation

et parks to maximize access to play within a limited space. They can also enhance unused lots and courts in traditional parks to provide other recreational opportunities for residents. In addition to free play, many park and recreation departments, other municipal departments and nonprofits utilize the mini-pitches as sites to offer high-quality programming. On many mini-pitches, we work with partners to offer our Soccer for Success afterschool program, which is proven to improve health and social outcomes. In the past year, we’ve created more than 25 mini-pitches with the Chicago Park District, Houston Parks and Recreation Department and Atlanta Department of Parks & Recreation. And, with each new mini-pitch, we see a transformation of the urban landscape. A Safe Place to Play in Houston The impact of these mini-pitches

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can already be seen in Houston, Texas, where, with Target, we recently opened a double mini-pitch in Eastwood Park. Adrian Juarez, a Houston native and coach-mentor with our Soccer for Success partner, Houston Parks and Recreation, told us that prior to the creation of these mini-pitches, it was hard to find a high-quality field that was open to the public. Juarez was at the park to unveil the new mini-pitches and could see the impact immediately. “That day at Eastwood, you saw the smiles on the kids’ faces,” he says. “You can see the parents watching their kids having fun, and you hear kids laughing. It’s a great feeling.” He’s also seen the impact the mini-pitches have on getting youth more active. “Without things like this, we would have a lot less faceto-face interaction, a lot less physical activity because people would be on their technology,” Juarez explains. “Having these mini-pitches available to them, they put down the controller to go play.” Hector Avila, Soccer for Success program director with Houston Parks and Recreation, says that even non-soccer players have been impacted by the space. “If you walk through the park and you see the way it looks now compared to how it looked before, it makes you feel proud,” Avila shares. “In 10 years, 20 years from now, those courts are going to impact many lives and different generations in so many different ways.” Note: To bring this transformation to your park, visit Ed Foster-Simeon is President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation (info@

It’s Your Time to Shine

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Breaking Ground in Baltimore for Parks Build Community 2019

ABC Park in Baltimore, Maryland, the 2019 Parks Build Community project.

By Suzanne Nathan


n December 11, 2018, ground was broken at ABC Park in Baltimore, Maryland, for the 2019 Parks Build Community (PBC) project. Speakers at the grand event included Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, Director of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Reginald Moore, City Councilman John T. Bullock, NRPA Executive Editor of Parks & Recreation Sonia Myrick and President of Friends of ABC Park Derwin Hannah.

Hannah is a community leader and volunteer who has been directing the programming for and care of ABC Park for more than 17 years, along with his wife, Denetria, and sister, Drucilla Williams, a BCRP employee. He drives a truck

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at night for a living and visits ABC Park every day to provide the constant care and leadership it needs. At a time when creating safe places for children to play and providing opportunities for physical activity is a nationwide challenge, this type of dedication is critical to the local community. It provides health and wellness opportunities, as well as a welcoming environment of inclusion. Parks & Recreation magazine talked with Hannah to find out

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what motivated him to get involved with ABC Park years ago, and how the park makes a difference in the community. Parks & Recreation: I understand you grew up in South Carolina, did you spend a lot of time outside, in parks, playing sports as a child? Derwin Hannah: I grew up in a large family of 10. We played outside every day. I also enjoyed playing sports, like football, baseball and some basketball. P&R: When did you move to Baltimore? Hannah: I decided to move to Baltimore about 20 years ago, as I had family in the area.

P&R: What was your first experience at ABC Park? Hannah: We have a big family, so my wife and I decided to have our son’s first birthday party at the park — he’s 17 now. We’ve probably had seven of his birthday parties at the park over the years. P&R: Why did you feel compelled to get involved at ABC Park? Hannah: I noticed things seemed to be backward in the neighborhood: Kids were playing in the street while other things went on in the park, like drug use and police bookings. It wasn’t right. The kids needed a place to play, a place to learn how to play, they needed their childhood protected and to experience a feeling of belonging.

been times when I’ve wondered if I should stop, but then one person would come by and let me know it was all worthwhile. We’ve gained the trust of these kids and their parents. Even little things make a difference. There used to be litter all over the park, now people use the trash cans because they care. P&R: What were some of the first activities provided at the park? Hannah: The first event was a movie night. I found a piece of vinyl and tied it to the fence. We were able to project the movie and people came to watch. We still have movie nights and we get a crowd of 30–50 people. We host many more activities

now: back-to-school events, Halloween, an annual kickball game for involved businesses. At most events we go through about 300 hot dogs. We don’t deny anyone a meal. P&R: What other kinds of activities are currently offered at the park? Hannah: In addition to events and the playground, we offer sports programming. We have four football teams, two baseball teams, four basketball teams, as well as a dance/ cheer team that competes in and out of state. We’re able to do this because of the support of the local businesses. I’ve built relationships with several local business owners.

P&R: What kind of challenges have you faced over the years at ABC Park? Hannah: Changing the culture of what should be done in the park has been the biggest challenge. We asked people who were doing inappropriate things in the park, like drugs, to leave, and, at first, some people didn’t like it, but consistency was key. I come to the park every day, and once they saw I was serious, most came around. I’ve even had people apologize for their previous actions. We have had to call police at times, but only as a last resort, and the police department has been a tremendous support. People have said to me, “Why are you doing this? You’re wasting your time,” and there have

Derwin Hannah (center), his wife, Denetria (right), and sister, Drucilla Williams (left) at the PBC groundbreaking ceremony at ABC Park in Baltimore, Maryland.

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to participate, play. The cost to parents can be $225/year for their child to join the three teams — football, baseball and basketball — but we won’t turn a child away if they can’t meet the fee. P&R: How many children currently participate in programs offered at the park and what is the age range? Hannah: We serve around 250 children with our current programs. Sports programs are offered for children ages 6–17 and the teams are co-ed.

Sign showing ABC Park rendering and list of features (top) and banner with list of PBC Donors (above) displayed at the park.

I’ll send them an email or call and invite them to the park to see what we’re doing, and they’ve provided funding for equipment and team expenses. We let any child who wants 42 Parks & Recreation

P&R: How do you get word out about the activities at the park? Hannah: Word-of-mouth is key. I talk to parents who bring their children to the park, I walk around the community, make calls, use social media. Now, we even have people from neighboring communities asking us to give them a call to let them know when the next movie night or event is planned so they can drive over to see it.

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P&R: What are you most looking forward to with the Parks Build renovation? What do you think the community will most enjoy? Hannah: Everything! Parks are so important to our kids and our community, and this will help show we are here to stay. I believe rec and parks should be heavily funded. These parks are so important to our kids and our community. It takes everyone to make a difference. I encourage everyone, individuals and businesses, to get involved and make a difference. The community will definitely have something to be proud of when the park build is complete. NRPA is honored to work with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, along with our donors, as this program would not work if it was not for these fine companies stepping forward to donate playground equipment and services: • Musco • Greenfields Outdoor Fitness • PlayCore/Gametime • BCI Burke • Vortex • MDF/Most Dependable Fountains • Epic Outdoor Cinema • Gared • Pilot Rock • Dero • IPC Group We look forward to sharing more information in the coming months about the Baltimore Parks Build Community project and hope you will join us at the ribbon cutting to kick off the 2019 NRPA Conference, September 24–26. For more information on the Baltimore PBC project, contact Gina Mullins-Cohen at Suzanne Nathan is NRPA’s Media Specialist (



TOP TRENDS By Richard J. Dolesh

in Parks and Recreation for

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e are back with the top trends for parks and recreation for the coming year. NRPA’s fearless predictions about what will be the most significant trends in parks and recreation is now entering its fourth year.

The annual exercise is an eclectic collection of trend lines, prognostications and just plain blue-sky guesses about what the future will bring. The top trends for 2019 include subjects as large as the worldwide challenges of waste disposal and those as small as speculating what programs come next after pickleball. For some predictions our tongue is planted firmly in cheek, and for others, we are seriously addressing the kind of world we will be leaving for the next generation.


One of Park and Recreation’s Most Cherished Environmental Quality Efforts May Rapidly Come to an End Recycling has been the most “feelgood” environmental program for park and recreation agencies over the past 40 years. Unfortunately, the recycling of consumer waste may all but be over because of rapidly changing market forces, shrinking profit margins and China’s refusal to accept most American wastes. Virtually every park and rec agency in the country since the 1980s

has developed a public-facing recycling program, intended to educate people about the environmental value of recycling and reusing separated consumer waste, thereby saving energy and natural resources. However, China’s recent refusal to accept any paper waste with more than 0.3 percent contamination has slammed the brakes on the inexpensive, yet profitable, recycling of paper waste from the United States and other industrialized countries. Recent estimates by Waste Management, the largest U.S. recycling company, show that 25 percent of U.S. paper waste is contaminated with food and other non-recyclables. Experts agree, it is virtually impossible to achieve a 0.3 percent contamination level. This,

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coupled with China’s recent decision to ban import of 24 additional categories of other recyclable materials, including Polyethylene terephthalate or PET plastic, used for billions of recyclable bottles and other classes of waste materials, by the end of 2019 means that the era of profitable recycling is all but over. According to Bloomberg, it now costs New York City $18 per ton more to recycle waste than to put it in a landfill. With no economic incentive to recycle and the increasing costs to dispose of once-recyclable materials, many formerly recycled waste materials will now go directly to landfills without passing through waste-separating materials recovery facilities (MRF). Some communities have even stopped collecting recyclables. If there are no solutions to the present dilemma, companies that for decades have made substantial profits on materials recycling may cease to do so or convert operations to more

profitable business lines. Some innovative alternatives have been proposed in waste conversion, but at present, they are a risky financial gamble. As an alternative to shipping wastes to China, companies are seeking new receiving countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Korea. Certain metal recycling, such as aluminum, which is 100 percent recyclable, does remain profitable and is very popular with park and rec agencies. What this means overall to park and rec management and public education efforts to recycle and reuse is currently unknown, but recent developments and market changes are likely to have a profound effect on messaging the need and value of recycling. American cities and U.S. park and rec agencies that have included paper/plastic/glass recycling in their sustainability plans may be forced to discontinue some types of recycling, and then what? Some agencies might continue recycling, but this could amount to perpetuating a false narrative that the materials are being recycled when in fact they no longer are. Some major companies have set ambitious recycling/reuse goals, and there is great public will to support recycling. However, if there are no alternative solutions or technological breakthroughs, a 40-year effort to encourage personal responsibility and actions for environmental conservation through recycling may come to an end sooner rather than later. Prediction: One or more U.S. park and rec agencies that presently recycle paper/plastic/glass will modify or end their internal and public recycling programs in 2019. Vandal-proof sharps containers provide a place where used needles can be discarded, helping to improve park safety.

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Opioid Abuse in Parks Forcing Changes in Design, Programming, Maintenance and Public Safety Depressingly, opioid abuse makes the Top Trends list for the third year in a row. Recent statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other researchers show that deaths from opioid abuse increased yet again in 2017 and have now become the nation’s highest cause of death for adults under 50, with more than 70,000 deaths annually. The level of opioid abuse in parks is staggeringly high, prompting an extraordinary response from park administrators. Employee training regarding opioid abuse is now a must for employees working in parks, from program leaders who may be trained and equipped with Narcan for emergency injections and summer playground staff who must be alert for opioid hazards to children, to maintenance personnel who clean paths and weed landscape beds and may be exposed to hundreds of discarded needles and paraphernalia. Opioid abuse levels in some parks have grown so high that they literally are causing design changes in parks to improve sight lines near bathrooms, changing the placement of or removing benches altogether to lessen opportunities for abuse, installing safety lighting to deter nighttime abuse and identifying the best locations to place largevolume, vandal-proof sharps containers in outdoor settings, not just in bathrooms. There is recognition that the park visitors’ experience regarding the perception of safety and parents’ fear for children’s safety may be fundamentally changing in high-abuse areas.

Prediction: Park and recreation agencies will increase efforts to combat the opioid crisis and improve park safety by allocating funding for additional training for all staff; purchasing proper safety equipment for staff on the frontlines and installing outdoor sharps containers to encourage the safe disposal of needles. One or more park and rec systems will embrace approaching the epidemic through a public-health lens, forging stronger partnerships with health departments and nonprofits to deploy social workers and health advocates to offer education on safe needle usage and disposal, training on how to administer naloxone and targeted programming for youth enrolled in out-of-school time programs.


More Tech in Parks: Beacon Counters, Geofencing and Drones Technology is having a greater impact in parks than ever before. Lower costs, technological simplification and mass production is making high tech inexpensive and accessible to park and rec agencies. The most tantalizing tech developments for 2019 are monitoring systems, such as beacon counters and geofencing, that can be used in parks. Beacon counters are simple, relatively inexpensive bluetooth- enabled devices that can be mounted in a variety of locations, interior and exterior, that detect a person’s presence through their cellphone signal and relays that information to a central location. Geofences utilize RFID or GPS technology to


Consolidating municipal services, such as the Kendall Library & Community Center in Houston, into existing parks can provide residents with close-to-home access.

locate people within larger areas. Brian Albright, director of San Diego County Parks and Recreation, says, “Many of our parks are free without staff, so we have no way of monitoring and counting how many people are using the parks, what the most popular areas are, times of day, etc. The beacon counters attach to light poles, fencing and signs, and power themselves through photovoltaic cells. We can collect and monitor the data remotely from our headquarters office at any time.” Recreational drones are becoming increasingly accepted in park settings, although there is still not much love for them. With advances in technology, reduced prices due to mass production and greater public acceptance, drones are becoming just another type of tech recreation. Fears of some park managers concerning privacy intrusions and safety violations persist, however. Drones are truly a disruptive technology, upending our preconceptions of what this technology may do. At England’s Gatwick Airport, the inability of security forces to stop

a rogue drone closed the airfield for 36 hours, showing just how disruptive this technology can be. However, in parks, the promise of drones in assisting in public safety missions and improving public security continues to make this tech tantalizing. Next on the scene: “Follow me” drones in parks and use of drones for pollination. A U.S. firm is already using full-size drones for dropping pollen bombs on fruit and nut crops, increasing yields 20–60 percent. Could there be new applications for parks? Prediction: Park and recreation agencies will eagerly embrace the use of technology in 2019 for a variety of purposes, including monitoring of park visitors, biometric identification at entrances to public facilities and programs, and scientific uses, such as surveying fire-prone landscapes and charting the spread of invasive species. Although it is not likely to occur in 2019, facial recognition software may be coming to parks and recreation sooner than we think, as it already has for retail businesses and law enforcement.

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eSports — Coming to Public Park and Rec Facilities? With revenue topping a halfbillion dollars per year and a global audience of 400 million annually, eSports are more than a fad. In eSports, spectators essentially sit and watch individuals or teams of players compete in a variety of electronic games, cheering rabidly for their favorite champions or teams. With slick marketing, intensive promotion and exciting competition for participants and audiences alike, this essentially sedentary recreational activity poses a conundrum for parks and recreation. It is almost the antithesis of what we fight for every day — combatting childhood obesity, getting kids on their feet and being physically active. Despite its sedentary nature, eSports is a form of recreation virtually guaranteed to draw crowds of young people into recreation facilities and venues. eSports events and tournaments have excellent potential for revenue generation and facility utilization. Is it possible for

public parks and recreation to convert this enormous potential into a means of promoting health, physical activity and social cohesion for young people? Prediction: Several park and rec agencies will sponsor eSports tournaments in 2019, combining digital gaming with supplemental events and physical activity challenges. For participants, this will offer maximum fun in combination with heart-healthy physical activities, gaining the best of what can be an outstanding opportunity for parks and rec to attract and engage youth.


Investments in Park Infrastructure Will Rise As reported in The Wall Street Journal recently, investments in state and local infrastructure, which have been depressed since the Great Recession of 2008, are finally increasing because of increased revenues from local tax receipts that fund much of park and recreation infrastructure expenditures, such as buildings and roads.

State and local spending is up nearly 10 percent from last year, according to data from the Commerce Department, and spending on capital outlays continues to grow, nearly reaching the peak last seen in 2009. The Commerce Department data also show that spending on amusement and recreation facilities is up 31 percent from a year ago. It appears that economic conditions will remain favorable for new investments in park and recreation infrastructure if local and state tax collections continue to rise and interest rates remain relatively low. Parks and recreation at all levels will expand the social and economic value it brings to local, regional and state economies. Prediction: Building on the momentum of the past few years, local and state governments will make even more park and recreation infrastructure investments in 2019 in buildings, playground equipment, roads and bridges, and capital repairs to aging infrastructure, topping the highest level of infrastructure spending since the recession of 2008.


Pig Yoga, Really? If you thought doga (dog yoga), cat yoga, or ‘caprine vinyasa’ (baby goat yoga) was the epitome of yoga experiences, make way for pig yoga. Yoga with a variety of animals is a trending topic, and, nationwide, some park and recreation agencies are now sponsoring highly popular goat yoga classes, where instructors provide amicable baby goats for participants to share. But pig yoga? Yes! It really is trending. As Jennifer Igneri writes in the website Nylon: “I gave up on whatever pose I was hold-

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Pets and other animals add a new dimension to yoga, such as this session of caprine vinyasa or baby goat yoga.

ing the second one of my new swine friends came over to me to say hello. Why would I hold a Tree pose when I could roll around on the floor with Franklin, a puppy-sized five-monthold piglet, instead? What I will tell you is that it was the most magical day of my life.” Prediction: If you can relate to the animal and it is a willing participant, there is a good chance there will likely be a new yoga class yearning to rise above the ordinary.


Dogs, Dogs and More Dogs In the November 2018 issue of Parks & Recreation magazine, we learned that dog parks are one of the fastest growing types of parks in the country. The more than 90 million dogs in the United States must have a place to go, literally. Larger dog parks have become destinations and can contribute significantly to agency revenues and tourism. Increasingly, for many, dogs are regarded not just as part of the family but as children. Libraries, Health Services, Social Services, Cemeteries, Afterschool Care — All in Parks More and more, local jurisdictions are consolidating governmental functions and services. While there are several agencies that have park/ schools, a greater collaboration between municipal services for public benefit is coming sooner than you think. The consolidation of social services and health services with community recreation centers is a no-brainer. Combining libraries with community centers makes sense too, and perhaps many other governmental services. Such new consolidated

service centers can provide walkable/bikable access; intergenerational programs, healthcare, playgrounds, child and afterschool care, and all can be incorporated into existing parks, providing close-to-home access for residents — a win-win-win. Nonbinary Gender Identification in Parks and Recreation With a rising national movement for gender equality, local governments and park and recreation agencies will increase efforts to adopt inclusive policies and engage members of the LGBTQ+ community. Actions will range from making enrollment forms non-gender specific to modifying signage on existing restrooms and planning new bathroom facilities to be gender neutral. The efforts will pervade much of park and recreation management, including training for staff to become more LGBTQ+ inclusive and engaging LGBTQ+ individuals and groups to provide advice and assistance, as agencies work to improve practices and policies. Not Outdoors, Indoors Are traditional public park facili-

ties being replaced by indoor commercial recreation experiences? Just count some of the new indoor facilities that are growing by leaps and bounds — trampoline centers, climbing facilities and multi-sports bubbles that have turf-play areas for baseball, lacrosse, football, soccer and other field sports. Most are private-sector, for-profit facilities that may supplant public park and recreation programs and facilities. With outdoor temperatures rising due to climate change, there is a growing market for such indoor pay-to-play recreation, which, in many cases, is overtaking the capacity of public parks and recreation to offer these recreation amenities but leaving such experiences out of reach for those who cannot afford it. Many thanks to all who contributed ideas for the top trends list. Whether or not included here, your ideas will continue to animate articles, blog posts and podcasts thoughout the coming year. Please do continue to send me your ideas and trends. What do you think will be a top trend in 2019? Richard Dolesh is NRPA’s VP of Strategic Initiatives (

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Homelessness in Public Parks


A call for public education

By Milo Neild, M.S., and Jeff Rose, Ph.D.


ublic parks are designed to provide aesthetically pleasing green spaces where communities can gather for recreation, rest and leisure. Given that communities are not homogenous, user conflict between groups might seem inevitable. The growing concern with homelessness in parks serves as a strong and timely example of these conflicts. Park managers are tasked not only with mitigating social conflicts between traditionally housed park users and those facing homelessness, but also a variety of safety, health, experiential and environmental concerns related to homelessness in parks.

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The National Park and Recreation Association (NRPA) has recently devoted increased attention to homelessness in parks, hosting and attending national conference sessions and innovation labs (www. innovation-labs-los-angeles-califor​ nia/), surveying park and recreation departments and local government agencies and openly sharing the outcomes. To better understand the complexity of homelessness within municipal public parks and people’s concerns, challenges, successes and hopes from a wide array of perspectives, we conducted a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n = 19) with park managers, maintenance crews, people experiencing homelessness, police departments, health departments and social service providers. One of the themes that resonated across the research, from an overwhelming portion of those interviewed, was that they clearly expressed a need for public education to better address homelessness in our public parks.

The Jordan River Parkway Case Study Our study took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, along the Jordan River

Parkway. The parkway is a narrow riparian corridor that takes park users along a paved, multiuse trail running the length of the Jordan River. This area has been an ongoing concern for park management, as law enforcement and community members have voiced concerns about the prevalence of people experiencing homelessness who live along the trail and riparian corridor. Our interviews with community stakeholders revealed that their concerns involving homelessness shaped the nature of park management responses to homelessness. The symptomatic impacts of homelessness, such as trash, camps and the ongoing presence of people experiencing homelessness, often upset housed park users and drove many of them to voice public complaints to park management, police departments and health departments. Complaints to park departments included requests to remove trees, restrooms, vegetation, pavilion walls and benches used by people experiencing homelessness. Invested community members of park advisory boards also urged park management to quickly eliminate homelessness within their parks. However, a daunting task like home-

lessness has proven almost impossible to eliminate, especially for park managers who are well outside of the social services realm. Constant public pressure regarding homelessness was reported to be stressful and costly for park departments, and often felt beyond the scope of their professional duties and training. Community insistence on a quick response to homelessness seemed to encourage the use of shortterm, immediate responses by park management. For example, maintenance crews were often pulled from their regular park duties and tasked with posting eviction notices at camps, throwing away camp belongings and removing healthy vegetation and park infrastructure to discourage homelessness and public complaints. Predictably, such short-term, symptomatic responses failed to encourage lasting change. Park staff often felt they were “chasing people up and down the river,” as those living in the park simply relocated to another area of the parkway and the process started all over again.

The Price of Short-Term Responses The cyclical nature of responding to the public’s complaints about homelessness was incredibly costly for the parks. The negative public attention caused one park department to invest more than half the budget intended for an entire city park system on responding to homelessness. Staff members were unable to complete other aspects of their regular park maintenance, and some believed their parks were “slowly degrading” as a result. The removal of

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A sleeping burrow formed out of vegetation on a bank of Utah’s Jordan River.

vegetation, designed to reduce visible and material cover for those facing homelessness, concerned much of the park staff, as existing vegetation often enhances the aesthetics of the park, absorbs urban stormwater and mitigates soil erosion. The social value of the parks was also thought to be compromised, as park infrastructure, such as park benches and pavilions, provide spaces for people to gather, build social capital and rest. The price of short-term responses to homelessness is paid by the parks, as well as by the housed and unhoused community members who use them. Public complaints led to high frequencies of responses to homelessness that were especially harmful to park residents and social service providers. Depending on the municipality, evictions often reoccurred every 24 to 48 hours. The subsequent displacement not only kept those experiencing homelessness from accessing needed social services, but also made it difficult for outreach workers from local social service agencies to locate current and potential clients. In addition, the disposal of belongings by park maintenance staff burdened the limited financial resources of people living in the park. The loss of belongings forced those living in parks to repeatedly purchase or procure more blankets, clothes and supplies needed to survive the outdoor elements, instead of conserving money for housing, healthcare and/or personal expenses. One park resident paced while expressing his frustration with frequent cleanups. “I don’t know where to put this stuff,” he says. “[I need somewhere to keep it] so I can go to

work, you know. I’m always pulling this stuff around because I get tired of having to go get clothes and blankets and tents. It’s expensive.” This ongoing cycle contributes to park resident homelessness, as fears of belonging loss maintains homelessness for many people. Fear of losing belongings keeps many from seeking out employment or social services that would help to resolve their state of homelessness. Park management indicated in our interviews that it was generally unaware that short-term, symptomatic responses to homelessness unintentionally prolong instances of homelessness in public parks. Resolving the complex issues associated with homelessness in parks requires time, understanding and collaboration. A focus on resolving the causes, as opposed to the symptoms, of homelessness may substantially reduce the prevalence of unsheltered homelessness in parks. Nearly all the people living in the park desired housing and were not content with residing in public parks. One resident shared how social service outreach workers helped her find housing off of the parkway. “I remember the first time [outreach workers],” she shares. “They come up and right away announced ‘we’re [outreach].’ It’s not the police, so I just sat there for a minute, and I thought should I say something. So, I said, ‘Okay I’m getting dressed,’ [and] they’re like, ‘we’ll

wait.’ So they took me to [transitional housing]. I had an apartment for five or six years.” Years later, she only returned to the parkway after subsequently losing housing.

A Person-First Approach A person-first approach, both sympathetic and problem-oriented, is helpful for engaging with folks living through homelessness. Most park managers believe that fully addressing the causes of homelessness is complex and outside the scope of recreation professionals. Doing so would require substantial collaborative efforts with social service providers. However, transitioning people into housing often takes time, and social service providers use progressive engagement when interacting with those experiencing homelessness. This approach allows outreach workers to build trust through a series of interactions over a period of time, while working to secure housing. A social service provider explains that usually “we have a 24-hour window before a cleanup and [park residents] are going to be gone in 24 hours. I think that really we need a seven-day leeway so we have some time to engage with them and actually get some things in place to make that an easy situation for them to navigate.” Depending on the circumstances, housing may take hours or months to coordinate, and repeated displacement resulting

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Parks & Recreation



A note left by a park resident details their stolen belongings, which, in their words, amount to “my world.”

from short-term solutions would compromise housing efforts. Public education is vital to the implementation of long-term solutions. Given the discomfort voiced through public complaints and citizen advisors, long-term solutions would require the approval of the community. Park managers see public education as an important step in generating community support to address homelessness in parks. Efforts by park and recreation agencies to educate the public may take multiple forms, including interpretive signage, pamphlets, public statements, community meetings, forums and online platforms, including social media. A relatively concise list of talking points may be helpful for agencies seeking to engage in public education. Based on research findings, we recommend the following components of public education: • All members of the community are welcome to use public parks and open spaces. -- Parks and other public spaces are key spaces for functional communities. 54 Parks & Recreation

-- Everybody is welcome to use parks for recreation, relaxation, rest and leisure. -- Those experiencing homelessness are part of our community. -- Public parks and open spaces can be a more comfortable space for those experiencing homelessness. -- Know the rules of the park; call the parks or police department when necessary. -- High volumes of public complaints may strain park resources. • Anyone can experience homelessness. -- Each person experiencing homelessness is unique. -- Those experiencing homelessness may face issues, such as extreme poverty, physical and mental health concerns and/or addiction. -- Such barriers and limited community resources make homelessness difficult to overcome. -- Depending on individual circumstances and available community resources, securing housing can take longer than six months. • We will see less unsheltered homelessness as our community works to resolve homelessness. -- Become familiar with the organizations that serve those experiencing homelessness. -- Provide support and/ or volunteer for local organizations that work to resolve homelessness. -- Public complaints may result in the displacement of those experiencing homelessness and make it more difficult for organizations to engage people in resolving their homelessness.

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Publicly displaying these statements, and even their full adoption in communities, is unlikely to resolve the prevalence of homelessness in parks. Park managers are currently straining limited resources to appease public complaints and regain community support of public parks. However, public education may help shift, and eventually transform, the evolving dynamics between communities and park systems facing unsheltered homelessness. As one park manager states: “I don’t think that throwing all of our public lands’ resources into addressing homeless camps is the best approach, not just because it seems like a cyclical problem, and it’s not a permanent improvement. By and large, people tend to overreact about the impact of homeless camps on our property, and a large part comes from a somewhat irrational fear of people who are different because they don’t have a home. If we could just be a little more comfortable with the existence of homeless people in our society, we could put money into things that are more positively impactful for everyone.” The suggested messaging could help park managers regain the vital public support needed to shift from reactive, costly, short-term responses to proactive, holistic engagements with homelessness in parks. In the case of an educated public faced with resolving homelessness in parks, knowledge is power. Milo Neild, M.S., is an Academic Associate in the College of Public Service & Community Solutions at Arizona State University ( Jeff Rose, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor-Lecturer in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism at the University of Utah (





NRPA UPDATE Remembering Ernest W. Burkeen, Jr. A dear friend and colleague of many in the park and recreation field By Sonia Myrick


ometimes in life you cross paths with someone who you later wish you’d had the opportunity to get to know better. Ernest W. Burkeen, Jr., was one such individual. Burkeen died on December 2, and when we learned he had passed and reached out to gather anecdotes from those who knew him well, the accolades began pouring in. Throughout his career, Burkeen was guided by a desire to give back to the community, instilled in him by his parents. “Ernest was one of the great believers in making sure that every child and every adult who came to his parks or enrolled in one of his programs experienced recreation as both fun and physically competitive, without having to take it to extremes,” says NRPA’s board chair, Jack Kardys. “Not every kid is a great athlete and Ernest was committed to ensuring that everyone had an opportunity to play, no matter their skill level or ability to pay. His unequivocal commitment to NRPA’s Social Equity Pillar made him the great park professional he was!”

My time with him on the board and at Urban Director Meetings was wonderful. He was so great to talk with about our issues with urban parks systems and had such a wonderful smile. He was a great colleague and will be missed. – Joe Turner, former Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department 56 Parks & Recreation

Burkeen was born in Detroit and graduated from Western High School in 1966. Following graduation, he served four years in the United States Navy, before attending Michigan State University (MSU), where he earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts degree. By the time my path briefly intersected with his in 2015, he had already amassed an impressive number of awards, among them NRPA’s Meritorious Service Professional Award and the National Distinguished Professional Award, and had more than 30 years of senior management experience in parks and recreation programming. Shortly after graduating from MSU, he was appointed as assistant park superintendent and then superintendent with the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority of Southeast Michigan. Longtime friend Ron Olson, Michigan’s chief of parks and recreation, knew Burkeen when he worked at the Huron-Clinton Metro park and describes him as “one of the most charismatic individuals I have ever met. He would challenge you to be your best. He was a fun-loving guy who liked to have a good time. He enjoyed life, had very strong

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principles about being professional and taking care of your business and your family, and was a good role model. He really cared a lot about his family, but he also cared about doing a great job in the profession.” Burkeen, Olson and Harvey Feldman, president at Park and Recreation Consultants LLC, served together on the NRPA Congress Program Committee and the NRPA/North Carolina State Supervisory Management School at Ogelbay Park in Wheeling, West Virginia, for many years and were known as the “Three Amigos.” He brought an incredible level of energy and passion to everything he did, and, according to Olson and Feldman, “loved a challenge. He loved to take on things that seemed difficult. He enjoyed urban park systems, larger systems where it

When he left the Huron-Clinton Metro park to go to the city of Detroit, for his going away party they hired a comedian to come in and that was the context of the celebration — to have a comedian there — that fit his persona because that was him. Most going away parties wouldn’t do something like that, but he liked a good sense of humor surrounding things as well. — Ron Olson, Chief of Parks and Recreation at State of Michigan took a lot of creativity, will power and stick-to-itiveness to turn things around and make them positive.” That “love” was evident in the career path he blazed: he served as the director of the City of Detroit Recreation Department (1996–2001), the City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department (2001– 2004), City of Miami Parks and Recreation (2004–2012), Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks (2012–2016) and, from 2016 until his passing, for the City of Plantation Parks and Recreation in Florida. “Ernest held strong opinions regarding the value of parks and recreation services,” says Joe O’Neill, former maintenance and development division chief at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. “He was adept at negotiating the political winds of large, inner-city bureaucracies to maximize the services the city could provide to its citizens. He was a believer in professionalism, leading several cities through the NRPA Accreditation process. He saw true value in the staff going through the selfstudy process, measuring them

selves against the rigid national standards. This led to numerous initiatives within each city to improve the efficiency of their internal processes.” “He was well-liked by the staff here in Baltimore,” says, Fran Spero, division chief, Park Programs & Events Division, and William “Bill” Vondrasek, deputy director of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. “Ernest enjoyed passing on his knowledge of the field and prioritized developing the leadership and communications skills of the often younger, senior management team here. He was a talented mentor. His door was always open, literally! And, he always found time in his busy schedule to listen and counsel. Unlike many administrators, he shunned the spotlight, always encouraging other staff to take the microphone to highlight achievements of the agency.” Alicia C. Bradford, executive director at Wayne County Parks & Recreation, can attest to his desire to nurture and develop the talents of all his staff. Bradford worked with Burkeen while he was director at the City of De-

troit Recreation Department. She recalls how he encouraged her to apply for the position of assistant park manager-Belle Isle Park, a position she would not have considered since she was working in another department and profession. “I applied for the position and was the only African-American woman among nine male candidates. I was selected for the assistant position and promoted to park manager from 2002 to 2007. My career started in recreation, and Ernest saw something in me that I had not seen myself. That was Ernie, always encouraging and stretching you to be the best you.”

Ernest motivated and was a friend to many in the field. His legacy is his spirit in the values of parks and recreation and the Power of Positive Thinking! — Joe O’Neill, former Maintenance and Development Division Chief at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Time and space do not permit me to include all the memories shared about Burkeen. To learn more about him and an opportunity this month to help establish a scholarship in his name, visit ation-magazine/2019/January/Re membering-Ernest-W-Burkeen-Jr.

Sonia Myrick is the Executive Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (

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Get Ready for February — American Heart Month


eart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. As health and wellness is a pillar, NRPA is pleased to promote heart health by joining with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute National Institute

(NHLBI) to promote American Heart Month this February. The 2019 theme, Our Hearts improve when we work together, encourages everyone to adopt hearthealthy behaviors with others. “Research shows that changing behaviors, such as increasing physical activity, is made easier with social support and personal networks,” states NHLBI. “Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers or neighbors, we’re creating a movement of people to be heart healthy together.” Your agency can participate in American Heart Month by kicking off February 1 with Wear Red Day. Other activities for the month include:

• Encourage communities to get active in their social networks • Use #OurHearts in heart month-related social media • Check out the NHLBI Heart Month calendar and digital toolkit, which provide specific recommendations on how to get involved, at www.nhlbi. Join NRPA and NHLBI this February as we promote heart health awareness and the benefits of physical activity, proper diet and the role of social structures in promoting healthy lifestyle changes – Our Hearts improve when we work together!

Protect Your Playgrounds.

protect your agency.

Get Certified. Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSIs) help ensure children have safe places to play. Not only that, becoming a CPSI opens the door for career advancement and increased job mobility.

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A Governor with Roots in Parks and Recreation


y a 48 percent to 43 percent margin, Laura Kelly, who served as executive director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA) from 1986 to 2003, was elected the new governor of Kansas this past November. Kelly, who began her career as a recreation therapist for children suffering from mental illness, will be sworn in January 14, as the 48th Governor of Kansas and has pledged to work with leaders on both sides of the aisle.

During her time as the executive director of KRPA, Kelly is credited with helping to create two new areas in the state parks system – Flint Hills Nature Trail and Little Jerusalem Badlands – which the Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club regards as being “of unparalleled ecological and historical importance to the state.” The organization also considers her to be a strong advocate for the development of renewable energy.

“Our state parks are critical for economic development and growth. For Kansans to have a thriving community, we need to invest in our parks, trails and other park programs to make Kansas a place for people to grow, raise a family and build healthy communities,” says Kelly. “As governor, I intend to do just that.”


A former KRPA colleague, City of Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr recalls that as executive director of KRPA, Kelly was able to work with a diverse group of professionals from across the state. This ability not only helped her to win election to the Kansas Senate in 2004, but also helped her to gain the support of several moderate Republicans during her recent campaign for the governorship. Leading up to the election, KRPA’s public policy committee and staff drew up a list of questions for the three major candidates for governor that examines their opinions about recreation, parks, conservation and related issues. In Kelly’s responses, which can be found at, she states: “I will continue to be an advocate for our recreation and park programs as governor. More and more Kansas communities are embracing recreation and park programs that enhance the quality of life available to their families – and attract new business opportunities to their area. As part of my comprehensive Rural Prosperity Plan, we will partner with local communities to invest in their parks, trails and active tourism programs. As governor, I will ensure these programs have the support they need to thrive and grow our economy.”

“For Kansans to have a thriving community, we need to invest in our parks, trails and other park programs to make Kansas a place for people to grow, raise a family and build healthy communities.”

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Background Screening: An Opportunity, Not an Obligation Hot Topics It’s a new year and time for new ideas! Need some inspiration? Visit NRPA Connect! It’s the only professional networking platform dedicated to the park and recreation profession. Following are some of the topics being discussed:


Good Events Gone Bad – Do you have a story to share about events that haven’t gone well or as planned? This discussion covers some of the things that can ruin a well-planned (or not so wellplanned!) event: weather, logistics, social media/promotions and third-party contractual partners. Share your experience and learn from others how to better be prepared in the future!


Restroom Construction Costs – Have you recently built a new restroom? A colleague is looking into costs for an eight-stall with an additional family restroom, excluding bringing utilities to the site. Chime in to share your costs and lessons learned.


Online Summer Camp Registration Costs – Do you offer an online summer camp registration option? How did the implementation process initially turn out, how were you able to validate who was a resident and did you offer this option on the same day as, or prior to, on-site registration? Fellow professionals are looking to get the most from their software while making the registration process a little more user friendly. Want to share your ideas? Log on to NRPA Connect ( today!

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ackground screening can be complicated, but it’s an important part of your safety plan and should be looked at as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

What is a background check? A background check essentially is the compiling of public records associated with someone’s criminal or civil history. Because it’s public data, these records are a commodity and accessible in some way (electronically or on-site) to anyone. Knowing this, you could assume all background checks are the same, however, they’re not. The differences pertain to the methodology behind searching for records. A professional-grade screen, which is the most reliable, includes these important steps: • Address History Trace (AHT) – This is a report revealing various names, DOBs and addresses associated with a specific Social Security Number. • County Searches – Based on the profile created from the AHT, each jurisdiction/county identified should be searched. • Criminal Record Database – A database search of more than 450 million criminal records regularly collected from more than 2,500 public and proprietary sources. • National Sex Offender Database – A comprehensive, real-time search of registered sex offender registries in all 50 states. • Also Known As (AKA) Names – These can include maiden names, nicknames or aliases.

How can background checks be beneficial? Ultimately, your objective is to keep kids, coaches, volunteers and staff

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safe! Background checks are valuable in helping you do this. In-depth due diligence has great worth. It helps protect you from negligent hiring claims and enhances the safety of your organization.

Why does it matter and what can you do? Bad background checks can lead to individuals with questionable characters accessing your organization as an employee or a volunteer. Not all of these individuals should be blacklisted; however, certain past crimes should preclude an individual from having access to kids. Think about how you can enhance your screening, which, in turn, enhances the safety of your organization. Talk to your co-workers and policymakers about any gaps and deficiencies in your screening processes. Asking yourself and those who make the policies critical questions about screening is the first real step in being a voice for change. Heroes aren’t always the ones arriving after the disaster: They’re sometimes the ones preventing them from happening. Be a hero today. Stand up for better screening in your organization. NRPA members receive exclusive pricing on BIB’s Secure Volunteer background screenings! For more information on how to access your member benefit with BIB, please visit www.nrpa. org/bib.

Member Spotlight: Karla Kelley, CPRE By Vitisia Paynich


s far as Karla Kelley is concerned, parks and recreation was an appealing career move from the very start. Raised by a family of servant leaders, Kelley says, “My parents and grandparents were actively involved with their communities, and it was instilled in me early on the responsibilities I have to give back.” Thus, she began her career as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, working with individuals experiencing cognitive impairments. “I believe in the power of recreation and how recreation and leisure engagement can change individuals’ lives,” Kelley asserts. Today, Kelley serves as the regional manager for DC Department of Parks and Recreation. Parks & Recreation magazine recently spoke with her to learn what makes her job rewarding, what new sports and rec program her community members can expect in 2019 and her special wish for the new year. Parks & Recreation: What aspect of your job brings you the most satisfaction? Karla Kelley: Satisfaction comes when I am able to see someone come out on the other side: a senior lifted out of isolation and loneliness, a young person making a decision to participate in positive, life-affirming activities, a child building relationships and learning new skills,

Seeing a person work hard to reclaim their life after having a setback brings me satisfaction.

an adult transforming themselves through health and wellness programs. Seeing a person work hard to reclaim their life after having a setback brings me satisfaction. P&R: Can you share one new sports or recreation program that you will be introducing in 2019? Kelley: We are working on developing a service-learning program that will launch during summer camp and continue throughout the school year. The District of Columbia is one of many school districts to include community service learning as a graduation requirement. Utilizing the 40 Developmental Assets of Youth Development as a framework, the community service requirement aims to equip students with the necessary skills and abilities for career and educational advancement. Youth will have the opportunity to gain community service-learning hours in a safe space, matching youth with community organizations. Youth will be exposed to the community, nonprofit organizations and the work being done to build the capacity of their communities. P&R: How do make sure that your sports and recreation programming appeals to different age groups? Kelley: Do your research and stay

abreast of trends. Talk with everyone; get to know your patrons. Offer showcases and opportunities to try different offerings. Don’t be afraid to keep trying. Sometimes, you have to fail forward. P&R: Tell us one wish you have for the new year or a New Year’s resolution that you’ve made. Kelley: My one wish is peace on Earth. I don’t make specific resolutions because relapse is easy, so I challenge myself in areas that I would like to grow. I added more music to my life this year, I challenged myself to go to concerts and I enjoy music from all genres. 2019 is all about taking risks, as an introvert, I am going to move the needle toward extrovert. — Vitisia Paynich, Freelance Writer for Parks & Recreation magazine

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Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 Group of people linked by local region, friendship and support for each other 6 Used a bench 8 Pump up 9 Shaped like a rainbow 11 Flag football score 12 Producer of natural and organic food for the nearby communities, 2 words 17 ___ roll (doing well), 2 words 18 One who manages property on behalf of others 20 Preserves 21 Low area where the land is saturated with water 22 Jetty 24 Evergreen tree 25 Tailed toys that fly high 27 Great gymnastics score 29 Environmental watchdogs, abbr. 31 “Agreed!” 32 Go on a donkey 33 More wealthy area outside the city

Down 1 Dreams up and manufactures 2 Night flier 3 Ordinary 4 It will keep the drinks cool 5 Motion supporting vote 6 Justice and fairness in the administration of public policy, 2 words 7 Small boy 10 Raced 13 Like secret messages 14 Michigan or Huron 15 Specially assigned projects 16 Brought back to original condition 19 State nicknamed “The Last Frontier” 21 Crispy cookie 23 One who takes advantage of a park’s facilities 26 April 15 payment 28 Evening, for a poet 30 Exercise, for short

Check the answers to the crossword at As an added bonus for completing the crossword, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. The winner will be randomly selected January 31, 2019. 62 Parks & Recreation

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NRPA is dedicated to providing learning opportunities to advance the development of best practices and resources that make parks and recreation indispensable elements of American communities. Find out more at


20-22 26-28 27-Mar. 1 5-7 5-7 6-8 6-8 13-15 13-15 19-21 19-21 26-28 26-28

Hendersonville, Tennessee Worcester, Massachusetts Winter Haven, Florida Merriam, Kansas Phoenix, Arizona Clackamas, Oregon Newport News, Virginia Commerce City, Colorado New Brighton, Minnesota Sacramento, California Bismarck, North Dakota Wheeling, Illinois St. Charles, Missouri

August 18-22, 2019, 2019, Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, Illinois

September 24-26, 2019 Baltimore, Maryland

AFO PROGRAM 15-16 15-16 17-18 17-18 21-22 24-25 24-25 31-Feb. 1 31-Feb. 1

Dallas, Texas Manitou Springs, Colorado Camarillo, California Miami, Florida Arvada, Colorado Punta Gorda, Florida San Antonio, Texas Washington, District of Columbia Stuart, Florida

5-6 11-12 14-15 19-20 21-22 21-22 28-Mar. 1 28-Mar. 1

Nashville, Tennessee Leavenworth, Washington Jacksonville, Florida Wilmington, North Carolina Dallas, Texas Hampton, Virginia Margate, Florida Frisco, Texas

5-6 7-8 11-12 14-15 19-20 20-21

Landover, Maryland North Salt Lake, Utah

March 10-15, 2019 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia

January 27February 1, 2019 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia



9-11 28-30



January 13-18, 2019 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia


If your agency is tasked with generating revenues, now is the time to register for the Revenue Development and Management School, scheduled for March 10–15, 2019. Come join your fellow park and recreation professionals at the beautiful Oglebay Resort and Conference Center for the most comprehensive and innovative revenue development and management techniques known to our industry. This two-year program will explore the basic components of revenue development and management, corporate sponsorships, cost savings and efficiencies and much more. Led by a dedicated staff of park and recreation thought leaders, the school welcomes agency supervisors, managers and directors who are responsible for generating revenues. You’ll leave the school with a new network of like-minded professionals, plus ideas to implement when you return to the home agency. Space fills up quickly, so don’t hesitate to register for the 2019 Revenue Development and Management School today at www.nrpa. org/revenue-school.




Anderson, South Carolina Canton, Michigan Milpitas, California Austin, Texas American Canyon, California Lawrence, Kansas

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OPERATIONS 10 Top Fitness Trends in the New Year By Vitisia Paynich


s park and recreation professionals, you know there’s nothing like returning from the holiday break to find community members who are excited and determined to ring in the new year with a healthy attitude and new fitness regimen. Of course, like many people with New Year’s resolutions, their enthusiasm remains high during the early stages of starting a fitness program and gradually wanes with each passing month.

list since 2016. Recreation staffers could encourage those taking fitness classes to track their daily progress using these handy devices to keep them motivated and to ultimately help them achieve their fitness goal.

So, how can park and recreation departments keep community members engaged and on the path to a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps by introducing new fitness programming for 2019! Recently, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducted a research survey among thousands of fitness professionals, via a digital questionnaire, to gauge their predictions about potential health and fitness trends. These findings were published in ACSM’s Health & Fit-

2. Group Training

ness Journal (FIT). Following are the Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2019 that you might want to consider incorporating into your own recreation programming.

1. Wearable Technology With so many different brands and models on the market today, it’s no wonder that wearable tech — including fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices — has remained on ACSM’s trends

What’s the difference between group training and group personal training? According to ACSM, more than five participants qualify as “group training.” While group exercise training programs aren’t a novel concept for recreation departments, you can bring a fresh look to the types of classes you currently offer. After all, encouraging people to bring a fitness buddy to class increases their likelihood of staying on the program. From cardio-based classes, to spin classes, to dance-oriented classes — the sky’s the limit.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Although dropping from the No. 1 spot from last’s year survey, HIIT still remains among the top three trends. ACSM describes a typical HIIT workout as “short bursts of high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest.” You can offer this programming as 30-minute classes or longer. ACSM, however, does acknowledge that some fitness professionals warn about “potentially increased injury rates using HIIT,” but also points out that “this form of exercise has been popular in gyms all over the world.” 64 Parks & Recreation

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4. Fitness Programs for Older Adults According to the U.S. Census Bureau, baby boomers (ages 52 to 70) make up 74 million of the total U.S. population, just slightly below the number of millennials. Thus, park and rec agencies must ensure their programming caters to age groups across the board. That means designing fitness programs specifically for older adults who want to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. In 2018, this fitness trend reached the No. 9 spot.

5. Bodyweight Training Coming in fifth is bodyweight training, which requires little to no equipment. Instead, it relies on a person’s bodyweight as the training modality — e.g., pushups and planks. This is a cost-effective way to offer fitness to community members without having to purchase expensive gym equipment. Plus, it enables class attendees to easily apply the skills they’ve learned at home.

6. Employing Certified Fitness Professionals Fitness experts who participated in the ACSM survey stressed the importance of employing certified health and fitness professionals via “educational programs and certified programs that are fully accredited for health/fitness professionals.”

7. Yoga For centuries, yoga has transcended different cultures — from Northern India to North America — and gone through various incarnations in the modern era, such as Power Yoga and Yogilates. Consider this trend an oldie but goodie! Regard

less, it’s a trend that continues to withstand the test of time.

8. Personal Training Personal training, according to ACSM, “includes fitness testing and goal setting with the trainer working one-on-one with a client.” By doing this, the trainer can customize workouts based on a client’s expressed fitness needs and goals. What’s more, this could be a great alternative for people who don’t feel comfortable taking fitness classes in a large group setting.

9. Functional Fitness Training Functional fitness training employs strength training and other movements or activities with the objective of improving balance, coordination, strength and endurance. As an example, side lunges help enhance hip mobility. This is an ideal program for active seniors, who want to maintain their fitness.

10. Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) A global health initiative led by ACSM, EIM urges primary care physicians and other healthcare providers to encourage their patients to commit to a fitness routine and integrate physical activity analysis and recommendations with regular patient visits. Park and recreation departments teaming up with healthcare agencies to promote health and wellness is really a win-win scenario. While we realize not all these trends are conducive to your agency’s current health and fitness programming, even adding one trend might be enough to inspire community members to think of fitness not just as a New Year’s resolution, but as a true lifelong commitment to health and happiness. Vitisia Paynich is a Southern California-based Freelance Writer for Parks & Recreation magazine.

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Parks & Recreation


PRODUCTS Playground Climber The new TimberForm Tri-Net Climber provides creative play opportunities for climbing over, around and through the structure. The climber is comprised of four towering lathe-turned free-of-heart-center Douglas fir poles connected by natural color cable rope nets, making it appropriate for any park aesthetic. The climber’s geometry allows adventurous players of all ages to decide how high and how far they want to climb. COLUMBIA CASCADE COMPANY, 800.547.1940, WWW.TIMBERFORM.COM

Energy-Efficient Hand Dryer The XLERATOR® is the original of Excel Dryer’s three highspeed, energy-efficient hand dryers, the first hand dryer to receive environmental product declaration (EPD) certification from UL Environment (a business division of Underwriters Laboratories). The XLERATOR dries fast and represents a 95 percent cost savings versus paper towels, while eliminating their labor, maintenance and waste. The dryer’s no-touch, sensor-activated, hands-under design reduces the risk of crosscontamination among surfaces, providing significant hygienic benefit. For additional defense against impurities, XLERATOR is available with an optional HEPA filtration system, which removes 99.97 percent of potentially present bacteria at 0.3 microns from the air stream. EXCEL DRYER, 800.255.9235, WWW.EXCELDRYER.COM

66 Parks & Recreation

Zero-Turn Mower John Deere introduces the new diesel Z994R Commercial ZTrak™ zero-turn mower, which was developed from extensive customer feedback. “The Z994R Diesel ZTrak mower offers a powerful diesel engine and maximizes comfort, allowing operators to be more productive throughout long work days,” says Natalie Haller, product manager, John Deere. The mower has three available seat options, each with adjustable armrests. The hightorque, low-emission diesel engine provides power for tough conditions with low vibration and noise levels. The Z994R is equipped with a single 11.5-U.S. gal. (43.5-L) diesel fuel tank that provides enough fuel capacity for long mowing days with an easy-to-read fuel gauge. JOHN DEERE, 800.537.8233, WWW.JOHNDEERE.COM

Recycling Containers Paris Site Furnishings introduces the RC series recycling containers, which can be customized with openings and graphics to match the contents collected. Available as 1-, 2- or 3-unit recycling stations, these 34-gallon-per-stream containers feature durable plastic liners to collect discarded materials. Secure front-access door panels provide easy access to the collection bin for servicing. Manufactured of HSS tubing and pregalvanized sheet metal, which can be powder coated in a variety of standard colors or custom colors to match existing color schemes, these units are well-suited for high-traffic areas indoors or outdoors. PARIS SITE FURNISHINGS, 800.387.6318, WWW.PEML.COM

| J A N U A RY 2 0 1 9 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G Gazebos, Pergolas, & Pavilions


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Parks & Recreation


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68 Parks & Recreation

| J A N U A RY 2 0 1 9 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

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FROM A SIMPLE GREENHOUSE TO A FULL CONSERVATORY Move paper medical forms, waivers, and consents online. ePACT’s HIPAA-compliant emergency network is used by recreation organizations across North America.

ePACT’s cloud-based system works alongside existing recreation and member management software to help your recreation organization: • Access records in an emergency, on- and offline, using ePACT’s mobile app • Track completed forms and send one-click reminders for those outstanding • Send email and text messages for unexpected situations, schedule changes, or urgent updates • Streamline processes and reduce administrative time over paper forms


• Meet legislative requirements and ensure compliance with HIPAA privacy laws We had to call 9-1-1 for an emergency while a summer camp was offsite. I couldn't imagine having to deal with this using paper forms. ePACT worked so well, and the EMS appreciated me having the information quickly. EVAN STALEY, TOWN OF CARY, NC

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W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | J A N U A RY 2 0 1 9 |

Parks & Recreation


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Parks & Recreation

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© 2018 Willoughby Industries Inc.

Aerospace quality TIG welded construction.

Our commercial grade allstainless-steel fixture is built to last and helps to reduce waste from disposable water bottles. Resistant to sunlight, heat, and vandalism and available in 11 striking powder-coated colors!

Landscape Structures Inc.................................................... 7

Anchor Audio..........................................................................67

Livin The Dog Life / Gym for Dogs .................................. 69

BCI Burke Playgrounds................................................... 11, 67

Most Dependable Fountains .............................................C2

Bright Ideas Shop.................................................................67 Central Michigan University............................................. 68 Columbia Cascade.................................................................. 17 DOGIPOT................................................................................... 68 Easi-Set Buildings................................................................ 68 ePACT Network..................................................................... 69 Excel Dryer................................................................................5

Pilot Rock/RJ Manufacturing ........................................... 29 Playcore/Playcraft ...............................................................C4 Salsbury Industries................................................................9 Scoremaster Goals...............................................................70

advertiser index

Amish Country Gazebos......................................................67

Shade Systems.........................................................................1 Uline ...........................................................................................9

Gothic Arch Greenhouses.................................................. 69


Greenfields Outdoor Fitness.......................................... 2, 3

Willoughby Industries.........................................................70

Kay Park Recreation............................................................ 69

The Wood Carver, Inc./Goldenteak...................................70

(ISSN 0031-2215) is published monthly by the National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148, a service organization supported by membership dues and voluntary contributions. Copyright Š2019 by the National Recreation and Park Association. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of NRPA. Issued to members at the annual subscription price of $30, included in dues. Subscription: $46 a year in the U.S.; $56 elsewhere. Single copy price: $7. Library rate: $58 a year in the U.S.; $68 elsewhere. Periodical postage paid at Ashburn, Virginia, and at additional mailing offices. Editorial and advertising offices at 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148. 703.858.0784. Postmaster, send address changes to Parks & Recreation, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148.

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W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | J A N U A RY 2 0 1 9 |

Parks & Recreation


Park Bench

A Labor of Love The 2016 Pioneer Fire, one of the most expensive wildfires in the western United States, decimated the Idaho Parks and Recreation yurt system in Idaho City. Starting in 1996, North Dakota native and Idaho Parks and Recreation’s non-motorized trails coordinator, Leo Hennessy, built the first of what would become a system of six yurts. Each yurt, a domed, circular, Mongolian-style tent, is built on a mountain top. “We basically built them like lookouts, and you get some great 360-degree views and there are no lights as far as you can see,” says Hennessy. The revenue generated from them also helps offset the cost of maintaining and grooming Idaho City’s Park N’ Ski system. Hennessy, who has been the trails coordinator since 1989, could have retired in 2017, but following the fire, he wanted to see the system of yurts restored before doing so. From the site selection and the orientation of the yurts, down to the choice of kitchen tools and the placement of hooks for hanging wet clothing, Hennessy has been the hands-on, driving force behind the yurt system. “Leo is a testament to the magic that occurs when the central focus of your career is sincerely loving what you do, and we are all the beneficiaries,” says Jennifer Okerlund, communications manager for Idaho State Parks and Recreation. “I love to provide facilities and trails for people and then watch them have these great experiences,” Hennessy shares. “For some, it’s their first time having this great experience in luxury camping in a great outdoor environment. Each yurt has a journal, and when I read the journals, it just gives me great satisfaction seeing the experiences they’ve had, like seeing the Milky Way without the glare from street lights.” This winter, all six yurts will be open ( and availability is already limited. In recognition for his dedication to Idaho’s trail system, a new yurt called “The Hennessy Yurt,” has been added to the system, bringing the count to seven. Hennessy retired last month and, no doubt, will take every opportunity to engage in his favorite activity — leading others on the trails in Idaho’s backcountry and woods. — Sonia Myrick, Executive Editor, Parks & Recreation magazine


Leo Hennessy (at center in red/black jacket and white pants) at ribbon cutting for “The Hennessy Yurt.”


Parks & Recreation

| J A N U A RY 2 0 1 9 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

NATURE’S WAY TO PLAY Inspired by mountainsides, flowing rivers and stepping stones, these nature-inspired designs add a whole new dimension to water play! DISCOVER THE NEW DESIGNS!

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Parks & Recreation January 2019  
Parks & Recreation January 2019