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contents november 2018


volume 53 | number 11 |


50 Designing and Managing Innovative Dog Parks Richard J. Dolesh

Off-leash dog parks are one of the fastest growing type of parks in cities across the nation. NRPA’s 2018 Agency Performance Review data show that 55 percent of park and recreation agencies now have dog parks, and, in talking with park and rec directors, most agencies are either building a dog park or in the planning stage for one. So, what are the characteristics of a great dog park? What amenities and features do people — and dogs — love in the parks they visit?

56 Getting Innovative in Indy: The 2018 NRPA Annual Conference Sonia Myrick and Suzanne Nathan

Over the course of four days, a record number of attendees — approximately 8,000 — had the opportunity to participate in more than 300 4

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education sessions, reconnect and make new connections, with colleagues from around the country, and explore an exhibit hall showcasing the products and services of more than 450 exhibitors. Learn how some younger, special visitors to the exhibit hall were able to imagine new possibilities for their playground!

62 NRPA Talks Park Funding at Seattle Innovation Lab Gina Mullins-Cohen

At NRPA’s Seattle Innovation Lab in August, the theme, “#Winning: The Art of Getting Voters to Open Their Wallets for Parks,” focused on best practices and valuable resource tools for securing dedicated park funding. Key leaders presented their firsthand accounts of how their park agency has navigated its way through the politics of voter-supported park and recreation funding.

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contents november

columns 8


10 Editor’s Letter Why Parks Should Go to the Dogs Gina Mullins-Cohen

12 Research Using NRPA Data to Tell Your Local P&R Story Kevin Roth, Ph.D.

32 Advocacy Beaches as Coastal Resilience Derek Brockbank

14 Park Pulse Benefits of Dog Parks

16 Community Center „„ The ‘Dogification’ of America’s Parks 16 Beth A. Miller „„ Making Space in Parks for Dogs 20 Diego Martinez

34 Law Review ‘Courtesy Hours’ for Off-Leash Dogs in Public Parks James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

40 Conservation Dogs in Parks: Managing the Waste Richard J. Dolesh

24 Member to Member „„ Dog Parks 24 Anne-Marie Spencer „„ Raleigh, North Carolina’s Dog Park Study 28 Sonia Myrick

66 NRPA Update „„ 10-Minute Walk Campaign Marks Its First Anniversary 66 „„ What’s Next for LWCF? 67 „„ Consider Joining the NRPA Board of Directors 67 „„ Remembering William Beckner, Jr. 68 „„ Local Park and Recreation Agencies: Leading Providers of Out-of-School Time Programs Nationwide 68 „„ Green Infrastructure Training Opportunity 69 „„ Dogs in Parks Photo Contest Results 69 „„ Connect Hot Topics 70 „„ Member Benefit: Give the Gift of Certification — at a Discount! 70 „„ Member Spotlight: Cheryl Michelet 71 „„ Parks & Recreation Crossword 72 „„ Professional Development Calendar 74

44 Health & Wellness Parks and Health Equity Viniece Jennings, Ph.D., Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., MPH, and James Dills, MUP, MPH

46 Social Equity Not Every Community Sees Dog Parks as Essential Sonia Myrick

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„„ Achoo...Are You Ready for the Flu? 76 Katie Navarra „„ Offering Pet Care During Disasters 78 Suzanne Nathan

80 Products 81 Park Essentials 87 Advertiser Index Top Dog Suzanne Nathan


Parks & Recreation

Cover image: Sam Waldorf, Austin Parks and Recreation, Texas

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76 Operations

88 Park Bench

Perspectives Charting a Successful Future for Parks and Recreation Barbara Tulipane, CAE


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Charting a Successful Future for Parks and Recreation What will it take for park and recreation agencies to be successful in the future? That was the buzz at the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, and, fortunately, there were several sessions focused on future possibilities. Yes, there certainly was content about becoming more fiscally responsible and managing more efficiently, but what struck a chord with me were those sessions where presenters challenged the participants to think bigger, perhaps bigger than they ever have before, about what it will take to be successful in the future. Some of the strategies for success are new ways of thinking for parks and recreation: becoming involved in “value capture” initiatives, working with real estate developers to boost the economy while protecting affordable housing, ensuring zoning incentives that benefit the public and the private sector, using business improvement districts (BIDs) and participating in Opportunity Zones to create and maintain parks, and learning how to work with public-private partnerships (P3s) for the public good. Some park leaders get it. They are already taking advantage of these opportunities, and their communities are benefiting as a result. They have stepped up as players in a changing landscape, where elected leaders expect public parks and recreation to support economic development and to produce a range of benefits, such as making their communities more resilient, for cities and counties. Park leaders understand that resiliency is about how a community responds to natural and manmade disasters. Is there community cohesiveness, where residents will work together to heal from the devastation? Is there a real sense of community? If we truly believe Parks Build Community, then parks are a key ingredient to making communities resilient. New thinking will also be required to solve, or at least minimize, the impact of gentrification, a challenge that continues to haunt park leaders. While we tout the transformative power of parks, residents are often displaced because of these changes. This dilemma, displacing the very people the park seeks to serve, can be mitigated with creative financing, like community land trusts (CLTs). The benefits of these nonprofits include, but are not limited to, providing affordable housing, maintaining local businesses and protecting a community’s heritage. CLTs often are composed and governed by community residents and are funded by private foundations, local government and other nonprofits. To learn more about these organizations, visit It’s an exciting time for parks and recreation, because the role is growing in complexity and importance. But, those agencies that limit their role to handing out balls and bats and cutting grass will become irrelevant if they don’t step up to be players in our country’s future. The future is ours to shape, but only if we step up and claim it. What kind of leader will you be? Sincerely,



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NRPA’S MISSION: To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair of the Board of Directors Jack Kardys J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Past Chair Leon T. Andrews, Jr.

National League of Cities Washington, D.C.

Treasurer Jesús Aguirre, CPRE

Tower Steel Services, Inc. Seattle, Washington

Secretary Karen Bates Kress Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

President and CEO Barbara Tulipane, CAE

National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia


Formerly of Portland Parks & Recreation Portland, Oregon

Jesús Aguirre, CPRE

Tower Steel Services, Inc. Seattle, Washington

Leon T. Andrews, Jr.

National League of Cities Washington, D.C.

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

Carol Coletta

Memphis River Parks Partnership Memphis, Tennessee

Kevin Coyle

National Wildlife Federation Washington, D.C.

Jose Felix Diaz Ballard Partners Miami, Florida

Victor Dover

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning Miami, Florida

Richard Gulley

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

Roslyn Johnson, CPRP

Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Greenbelt, Maryland

Jack Kardys

J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Michael Kelly

Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois

Karen Bates Kress Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

Joanna Lombard

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

Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge 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

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Playworld Systems Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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Atlanta Beltline, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia

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9/30/18 8:20 AM9 Parks & Recreation


Why Parks Should Go to the Dogs Did you know studies have shown that owning a dog may lead to a healthier heart? Experts from institutions, such as Harvard Medical School, say there is growing scientific research that shows dog owners have a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people who don’t own a canine. Perhaps it’s because caring for our fourlegged friends requires regular dog walks and playtime and, therefore, owners stay fit and active in the process. I mean, have you ever played fetch with a dog? Research also shows that having a dog in a household can lower stress levels in adults, as well as children.


And, because dogs offer so much joy to people — and clearly provide health benefits to their owners — doesn’t it make sense for park agencies to help return the love by providing communities with parks and amenities designed especially for our canine companions? In this month’s cover story, “Designing and Managing Innovative Dog Parks,” NRPA’s Richard J. Dolesh explores how quickly dog parks are growing throughout the United States. Since 2009, the total number of dog parks has increased by 40 percent, according to research by The Trust for Public Land.


This could be a great education topic for our 2019 annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Last month, some 8,000 park and rec professionals gathered in Indianapolis for the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference. Parks & Recreation magazine’s Sonia Myrick and Suzanne Nathan provide a complete wrap-up of this year’s conference on page 56, featuring noteworthy moments from the Opening General Session, the keynote presentation, as well as the story behind the visit to the exhibit hall by K-3 students from Nashville’s Explore! Community School.

MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Brendan Daley, CPRP Anthony-Paul Diaz Ryan Eaker Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis, CPRP Gil Peñalosa Paula Sliefert Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs

The NRPA Annual Conference, however, wasn’t the only event to attract the park and recreation community in 2018. Innovation Labs have become must-attend gatherings in major cities across the country this year. Be sure to check out highlights from the Seattle Innovation Lab on page 62. The conference theme, “#Winning: The Art of Getting Voters to Open Their Wallets for Parks,” featured education sessions, panel discussions, a keynote and workshop designed to provide strategies for developing effective political campaigns. Lastly, congratulations to Sam Waldorf with Austin Parks and Recreation in Texas, who won our November cover contest. And, thanks to everyone else who submitted entries. We’re sorry you weren’t selected, but we make no bones about it…the competition was ruff!

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


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SALES COORDINATOR Meghan Fredriksen 703.858.2190 PHOTOGRAPHY (unless otherwise noted)

Pledge to Commit to Health at your park and recreation sites and join the 1,750 sites already creating healthier environments for kids and families in their communities through out-of-school time programs!

Pledge Now: The first 100 sites that register between November 29 and December 31 will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and the next 50 sites to register will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Sites must register between 11/29/18 and 12/31/18 to be eligible. Agencies are encouraged to register as many sites as they like, but only the first 5 sites will be eligible for gift cards (up to $125). Visit for details.

RESEARCH Using NRPA Data to Tell Your Local P&R Story By Kevin Roth, Ph.D


t this year’s NRPA Annual Conference, I received many comments about our research offerings. Beyond the kind words and constructive feedback that many of you shared with my colleagues and me, you also gave us terrific ideas for new research projects that should keep us busy over the coming months and years. One question that I received was “how can I get localized results” of NRPA research data? I have two “good news” responses to this request. First, the “national” numbers are the local numbers for many NRPA Research resources, meaning you can confidently share the national numbers to tell the park and recreation story with your community’s advocates, political leaders, media and the public. In other cases, we offer easy-to-access (and often free) resources that give you the opportunity to craft customized data that best fits your agency’s characteristics. NRPA’s Surveys of the Public For many NRPA research reports and data series, you can rely on

the national figures to tell your local story. In the three years of NRPA conducting surveys of the American public on park and recreation-related issues, we have found that our nation is united on your agency’s work and mission. That is, the support for high-quality, accessible park and recreational opportunities is strong across virtually every demographic group; including, age, gender, race, ethnicity, income level, education, political leanings and geography. The takeaway is that the key findings from the annual NRPA Americans’ Engagement with Parks (www. search-papers/engagement/) reports and our monthly NRPA Park Pulse

( search/park-pulse/) polls are reflective of the thoughts of the members of your community and for residents on the other side of the country. So, if you see a finding in one of our surveys of the American public, you can assuredly share those results with your community’s key stakeholders, knowing that they reflect the views of your community. But, if you want to get similar numbers for your city, town or community’s residents, we can help. While we will not be able to conduct a survey of just your community, we are happy to share the survey questionnaires. If you have the ability to conduct a statistically valid survey of your local residents, you can use these NRPA questionnaires to replicate the survey results for your community. However, there are several NRPA Research resources that provide you with the opportunity to shape the data to fit your agency’s specific situation. Park Metrics NRPA Park Metrics (www.nrpa. org/publications-research/parkmetrics/) is the most comprehensive source of data standards and insights for park and recreation agencies focused on effective management and planning of the operating resources and capital facilities. This benchmarking tool features data from more than 1,000 agencies across the United States on topics such as: • Park Facilities (residents per park, acres of parkland, indoor and outdoor facilities)


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• Programming (programs offered and programs for children, seniors, people with disabilities) • Responsibilities of Park and Recreation Agencies (from operating parks and facilities to programming types) • Staffing (FTE counts and key staff responsibilities) • Budget (operating expenditures, including per capita, FTEs, per acre) • Agency Funding (sources of funding, cost recovery, capital spending) Whereas the annual NRPA Agency Performance Review (www.nrpa. org/APR) highlights characteristics of the typical park and recreation agency, you can get your hands dirty and dig deeper into the data. For example, we have 22 interactive reports that present benchmark data by population served, annual budget, number of parks, acreage of parkland managed, number of employees, jurisdiction/agency type and geography. Pick the characteristic that best reflects your agency and see how your organization compares with its peers. You can go even further by customizing an agency performance report based on the precise characteristics that you define. To get started, simply enter your agency’s data into NRPA Park Metrics to gain access to dashboards and custom reports that compare your agency to that of its peers. Further, if you enter or update your agency’s data by November 30, you can get an NRPA Facility Market Report. Melissa May ( and Daniel Espada ( are ready to help with your questions. NRPA Facility Market Report Interested in learning more about people living near one of your

parks or other recreational amenities? Perhaps you are about to refurbish a preexisting facility or just acquired land for a new park. You can make better-informed decisions about the needs of the community when you learn about who lives there. That is where NRPA Facility Market Reports (www. fmr/) come to the rescue. NRPA Facility Market Reports (FMR) offer key data and insights about the residents served by your agency’s facilities with information from the U.S. Census Bureau and market research firms. These easyto-read reports give park and recreation professionals a greater understanding of the residents served by a park, aquatic center, recreation center or any other facility, using data that focus on residents’ behaviors, habits and interests. We have four types of FMRs available to choose from: • Community profile • Health & Wellness • Older Adults • Youth Every FMR is customized for the location. You simply provide us with an address and the area to be analyzed (e.g., 10-minute walk or a 10-, 15- or 30-minute drive). Even better news is that if you work for a Premier Agency, you get an allotment of free reports every year. Request an FMR today. Economic Impact Earlier this year, NRPA released the results of a study it commissioned with George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis where we learned that, in 2015, operations and capital spending by our nation’s local park and recreation agencies

were responsible for more than $154 billion in economic activity and more than 1.1 million jobs. Not only do we have an estimate of the economic impact at the national level, the researchers also developed estimates of the economic impact of local park and recreation agency spending for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Read the full report and access the state-level resources at www. research-papers/the-economic-im pact-of-local-parks/. Combining the national and state-level impact numbers makes for a compelling story when you advocate for your agency with local stakeholders. To help make your case even more persuasive, we are proud to announce that the NRPA Research team can estimate the economic impact of your agency’s spending on the local economy. By sharing certain data about your agency’s budget and staff levels, we are able to use the same methodology employed by the GMU team to develop an economic impact estimate of your agency’s spending. Reach out to me at to take advantage of this exciting NRPA member benefit. Now more than ever, data can be a compelling tool to make important decisions affecting your agency and to make the case for greater and more steady funding. The NRPA Research team is dedicated to collecting and presenting the data and insights that make this happen in our industry. Please continue to let us know how we are doing and what new research ideas we should explore. Kevin Roth, Ph.D., is NRPA’s Vice President of Research (

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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. With this month’s poll, we look at the possible benefits dog parks bring to their communities.

NRPA Park Pulse

91% of Americans believe dog parks

provide benefits to their communities. MILLENNIALS






Top 3 Community Dog Park Benefits: 60% Gives dogs a safe space to exercise and roam around freely

48% Allows dogs to socialize with other dogs

36% Allows owners a

chance to be physically active with their pet

Visit for more information.


The National Recreation and Park Association survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,002 U.S. adults ages 18+, between September 11th and September 18th, 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.

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COMMUNITY CENTER The ‘Dogification’ of America’s Parks Wagtown® research shows off-leash options attract park users By Beth A. Miller


ong ago, dogs roamed free without rules or owners. Times have changed. Dogs don’t have owners, they have families. People are deciding where to live, work and play based on dog-welcoming infrastructure and policies. This presents opportunities for park professionals to embrace this growing relevance driver. leaders across the country. Following two years of intense research, we have insights from economic development, land-use planning, tourism, law enforcement, animal advocacy, park and recreation administration, park users and more.


Wagtown (, a nonprofit dedicated to setting responsible and genuine standards for authentic dog friendliness and the nation’s leading dog-friendly community expert, interviewed more than 400


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Front-runners see a surge of interest in dog-friendly open spaces like we’ve never seen before. In its Unleashed: Off-Leash Dog Park Design Trends and Planning Tips guidebook ( unleashed), PlayCore, a company focused on building communities through play and recreation, states: “Dog parks help both pets and owners increase enjoyment for the outdoors, while providing a wealth of additional health and well-being benefits, as well as social and community advancements.” Park districts are embracing dog lovers because dogs bring their owners along for the run, hike, walk, paddle or to just enjoy the serenity of the open space with their best friend. Dog-friendly areas are safer because dog walkers are hypervigilant patrollers of their parks. In addition, regardless of socioeconomic background, American park users are increasingly counting Fido as one of the family. This gives parks a key to the hearts of their user constituents regardless of race, education, income, interests, etc. New attitudes about dogs mean changing expectations for park services. Leaders recognize the value of dogs and their role in parks, but there isn’t a quick answer on how to react to the demand. There is not

Residents in New York City gather for daily chats while watching their dogs socialize and get exercise.

Amenities like dog washing stations add to the value of the experience and foster respect for facilities.

“one right way” to create an off-leash experience. Three well-recognized categories for off-leash play are noted in Seattle C.O.L.A. (Coalition for Off-Leash Areas) Best Practices Report ( These categories are especially helpful in high demand and urban areas where mixed use is necessary.

Option A:

Off-leash dogs under voice/ sight control are free to share recreational space with non-dog users where indicated within specified times A great example of this format can be found in bustling New York City, where several dozen dogs can be found before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. on “The Hill” of Central Park. The busy urbanites scurry through the streets seeking green respite for their dogs. Wagtown visited the park in 2016 and found that users understand that responsible dog ownership is critical to the success of the experience they treasure. Because the dogs come regularly to a well-maintained area, their social game is stellar. Then, like clockwork, when time’s up, you can hear the clicking of leashes on collars as they gather up their floppy-eared family members and head elsewhere.

Option B:

Off-leash dogs under voice/ sight control are free to share recreational space with nondog users where indicated in specified zones of the park. These areas encourage users to

Dogs who have regular access to off-leash play are better behaved, more socialized and less aggressive compared to those who do not. W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 |

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Even where space is a premium, dog areas can be a valuable addition to an inclusive park experience.

share recreation space with dogs in a safe and equable way. Because it is important to allow some buffer zone, some areas may be too small to combine groups.

In Redmond, Washington, there is a community park with one of the most inspiring off-leash areas in America. Marymoor Dog Park (​ rymoor/) is well-planned and supported by the community leadership and the grassroots organization, Serve our Dog Areas (S.O.D.A.). S.O.D.A. has developed and sustained a volunteer effort to provide assistance in dog spaces. From fence installation and repair to dog wash stations and coffee bars, members of the dog community have rolled up their sleeves and contributed to an incredible experience for dogs and their owners. The parks have provided guidance, materials, training and a financial commitment to help maintain excellence. They have installed wayfinding, site signage and natural barriers and offer specialty vendors. Visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee from the caboose cafÊ or treat their dog to a bath before climbing aboard for the car ride home. Although Marymoor delivers a top-notch experience, it is open to the public with just a $1 parking fee. The sheer number of dogs of all shapes and sizes in this space was impressive and speaks volumes about socialization of dogs and the irrelevance of breed.

Option C:

Off-leash dogs with a permit and under voice/sight control are free to share recreational space with non-dog users where indicated in specified zones of the park. Off-leash areas encourage nature play and independent use of park spaces. 18

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Seattle’s S.O.D.A organization has developed an impressive collaborative arrangement that welcomes dogs and pleases multiple users.

Permits are available through classes provided by the city or parks. In this scenario, off-leash access with permit leaves the open space available for on-leash activities while allowing well-behaved dogs to enjoy off-leash play and socialization. This solution addresses the root

of most common issues — lack of education and training: issues that stem from a lack of understanding about responsible and safe dog ownership. There are cultural and geographical variances that should to be taken into consideration. Some park and recreation facilities may have sensitive land preservation issues or local ordinances that can be integrated into the permitting. One example is in Boulder, Colorado. The city provides free class-

es in sight and voice control, and the yearly permitting system makes for easier enforcement and sends a message to all park users about the importance of training and respect. In short, the United States is “dogified.” Are you? Detailed references for this article can be found at​ reation-magazine/2018/November/ the-dogification-of-Americas-parks. Beth A. Miller is the CEO of Wagtown (


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Making Space in Parks for Dogs How can parks and recreation strike a balance that pleases everyone? By Diego Martinez


he two sides of the aisle took their seats for what promised to be another fervent debate in our nation’s capital. On the agenda: the inclusion of a dog space in the renovation plans of a community park and recreation center. often clean up after other owners’ dogs and that a dog park would invite more dogs into their community, enlarging their maintenance concern. These issues are not unique to this quiet, small community in northwest Washington, D.C. As


In one camp, residents highlighted the merits of a dog space, including having an enclosed area for their dogs to run freely and creating a space for conversations and connections between dog-loving owners. In the other camp, residents noted how they

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cities continue to evolve and demographics reshape neighborhoods, ideas and visions for the futures of the communities must coexist. When community ideas and visions inevitably differ, how can we strike a balance that pleases everyone? In addition, if a dog space is included in a park’s plans, how do we ensure that all parties remain engaged throughout planning, construction and beyond the project’s grand opening?

By understanding the makeup of the neighborhoods in question, using creative thinking in the planning of a dog space and securing a sponsor to manage the space, the addition of a dog space can ultimately be a community asset. Navigating Community Engagement City and neighborhood profiles and demographics are dynamic. People migrate in and out, reshaping the identity of the community. When considering the addition of a dog space within a larger park space, it is important to understand and project the future needs of the community. The challenge for park and recreation planners is to capture the voices of those who not only bark the loudest, but also of those who stand in the background. Hosting a community survey during the dog space planning process allows park planners to capture as many diverse values, voices and opinions at a time when the ability to change project requirements is easiest. For example, prior to the previously mentioned community meeting in the District of Columbia, a survey was conducted that asked participants for, among other things, demographic information, park usage, preferred park amenities, areas of improvement and the implementation of a dog space. At a quick glance, it was evident that a dog space was a hot topic; however, merely taking a tally of who was for or against a dog space was insufficient information when planning and allocating public funding. Through simple cross tabulations of the survey results, the planning team developed a narrative

based on the residents’ responses. The results showed that the lack of a dog park correlated with lower park-usage rates among respondents over the age of 50. Moreover, young families, ages 25 – 49, with low park-usage rates noted both dogs off their leashes and the lack of maintenance by dog owners as key drivers for them steering clear of the park. From the survey results, the planning team had evidence to support the idea that incorporating a dog space would satisfy the dog owners and ease the safety concerns of young families. While not all survey results may provide a clear definition or path toward a park’s future, ensuring that you capture diverse voices within the community is essential to producing accurate and useful results. Let’s Build a Dog Run! The community has spoken, and a sizable faction is advocating for a dog space in the neighborhood; however, city space is becoming increasingly valuable and limit-

Dog runs are functional, fencedin space, usually a minimum of 5,000 square feet, where neighborhood dogs can run freely, exercise and socialize. ed. According to the municipal regulations in Washington, D.C., “the creation of dog parks in the [city] requires a certain degree of flexibility due to the density of buildings, as well as the scarcity of District-owned parkland.” The challenge becomes how to balance the dog owners’ needs with the requests of other residents for a playground, fitness equipment and leisure space. One solution for developing city parks is the inclusion of a dog run. Dog runs are functional, fenced-in space, usually a minimum of 5,000 square feet, where neighborhood dogs can run freely, exercise and socialize. Whereas a dog park is larger and may include architectural and landscaping features,

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was developed that included a 6,400-square-foot dog space, baseball field, renovated recreation center and playground. The park and recreation center provides space for dogs to run freely and exercise, while reserving space for recreational sports, striking a balance between community needs. While there is no one-size-fits-all for dog spaces, dog runs provide the flexibility to address multiple community needs. Ultimately, it is up to the city and park planners to develop a dog space that fits within the community’s vision.

furniture for patrons, drainage and pet-friendly surfaces, a dog run provides the essential features that will keep dogs happy and healthy, including a 5-foot fence, drinking fountains, waste bags and a surface that is both pet-friendly and sustainable. By building a dog run, you not only address the needs of dog owners, but also of families and other residents. Dog spaces can be divisive, but if you include a dog run

alongside other amenities, such as playgrounds and blacktops, the community may feel more receptive to including a space for dogs. The Guy Mason Recreation Center in Washington, D.C., is an example of successfully integrating a dog run. Through a thoughtful analysis of the community’s needs, a 250,000-square-foot space

Securing a dog-run sponsor during the planning phase allows the sponsor to be invested throughout the buildout process.

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Maintaining a Dog Run It is dusk at the community’s new dog run, the last of the wagging tails have gone home, but a lingering smell remains. Whether it is dog-waste removal, fixing a fence or maintaining the field surface, how will the community address issues critical to the quality of the dog run? With tight budgets, park and recreation departments do not have the resources to consistently monitor and maintain dog spaces. Securing a dog run sponsor for maintenance, management and rule enforcement is vital to the health and longevity of a dog run. Securing a dog-run sponsor during the planning phase allows the sponsor to be invested throughout the buildout process. In certain jurisdictions, the sponsor is responsible for submitting a formal proposal for the establishment of the dog run during preliminary community meetings. Sponsors can be residents, organizations or businesses with a nonprofit interest in the community. While any community member can volunteer to become a sponsor, hav-

ing a broad base of engaged and committed sponsors mitigates the risks of people moving out of town, a lack of community volunteer work support and waning interest over time. According to the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, the most successful dog spaces are managed by a board of directors and have a minimum of 10 volunteers who are willing to assist with maintenance, fundraising and volunteer recruiting. Once a sponsor is secured, it is critical to outline the roles and responsibilities between them and the city park department to manage expectations. These roles and responsibilities will serve as a reference point if the park becomes a liability for the community. Not every owner will be responsible and clean up after his or her dog. Over time, the dog run will exhibit wear and tear. It is important to outline how often sponsors are required to review the facility’s state, how to communicate issues within the community and how to resolve issues. Considerations for Planning and Maintaining an Urban Dog Space Urban neighborhoods are trending toward adding more dog spaces. Research from the Trust for Public Land notes that offleash dog spaces are sprouting in larger cities at a faster rate than other park types. Also, as the rate of dog ownership increases, city space for four-legged “children” to roam freely and tire out increases in demand. However, if residents seek to maintain existing amenities, such as playgrounds and blacktops, can city planners incorporate a dog space in a manner that allows all stakeholders to coexist? Such limited space forces city and park planners to think strategically and to be creative with land allocation. Hosting temporary pop-up dog spaces offers park planners the flexibility to introduce dog spaces in neighborhoods. In addition to cityowned parkland, city and park planners may shift their attention to underutilized alleys or rooftops that can be developed into a dog space. Something else to consider is that many apartment buildings in cities now offer amenities, such as a space for dogs to run and exercise. So, are there sufficient private dog spaces that minimize the neighborhood’s need for a public dog space? Are there opportunities to engage in partnerships with private dog spaces to allocate public spaces for other recreational activities? In answering these questions throughout the park planning process, the development of public space for either a dog run or other amenities can be a positive experience for all community stakeholders!

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Parks & Recreation



Promoting vibrant, active people, dogs and community By Anne-Marie Spencer


ccording to numerous reports, spaces where dogs can play offleash are the fastest-growing feature in parks today. Dog parks are sought after by pet owners for multiple reasons. They provide socialization for both pets and their owners. They bring people of all walks of life together in a space where they can form bonds and friendships based on their shared love of dogs. For dogs, especially ones whose owners work long hours, regular dog park visits can provide an outlet to expend stored energy. While demand stems from a growing number of individuals owning a pet, the value and benefits of these spaces extend beyond pets and their owners — making

a statement about a community’s commitment to offering amenities that attract a richly diverse and active population. To better advocate for off-leash dog parks,

it is important to understand the demand for these spaces and the benefits for dog owners and the broader community. As populations grow, and leash laws become more restrictive, many municipalities see dog parks as a way to allow pets to play without impacting traffic, infringing on private property or potentially creating unwanted litter on public streets. While dog parks are certainly welcomed by dog owners, the value and benefits of these spaces extend far beyond the dog community. Multiple Benefits Dogs encourage people to walk more, and research studies show that at the individual level, being outdoors in a dog park offers diverse therapeutic, physiological, psychosocial and psychological benefits. It has been found that owning a pet is directly linked to fewer visits to the doctor and improved overall health. Dog walking has been examined as a mechanism for promoting moderate physical activity, providing physical health benefits that link to a decrease in risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension and high cholesterol. In

Dog park amenities, like this ramp, help dogs build confidence and strengthen muscles. 24 Parks & Recreation

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Dog walking promotes moderate physical activity, providing physical health benefits.

addition, it has been found that individuals who own a pet are more likely to participate in outdoor activities and are generally more active, healthier and more sociable, even with individuals they don’t know well. Dog parks provide important community benefits as well, and are important outlets for humans, as they provide recreational opportunities and bring together dog lovers of all ages and socioeconomic status. Dog parks promote walkable neighborhoods, an enhanced sense of community and safety, because the pet owners are not walking on busy streets. They also provide a place for owners to converse and get information about dog-related services and about the community in general. They serve as a conversation starter, and nearly half of the people who responded to a survey indicated they had become acquainted with other people in the neighborhood through their pets. From a pet ownership perspective, public dog parks allow dogs to get ample off-leash exercise and social activity with other dogs, promoting a decrease in the level of troublesome behavior. Rejuvenate Underutilized Parks and Spaces Dog parks can be created to suit any size space. Even in airports, where space is at a premium, dog parks are cropping up as a much-needed amenity for travelers and their pets. They can also be used to rejuvenate

underutilized parks and spaces. The city of Gahanna, Ohio, used Pizzuro Park, an underused space in a floodplain, to create a dog park with four areas: two for large dogs, one for small dogs and another for agility-based activities. The dog park has made Pizzuro one of the most visited parks in Gahanna.

Stockbridge, Georgia, also used a repurposed floodplain in its Clark Park to create an oasis for dogs and their owners, designating about an acre of the park’s nearly 12 acres for the new dog park. The city used the space creatively, installing plantings and paths to absorb rainfall at the lower elevations of the

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Material Considerations for Comfortable, Active Dog Parks • Accessible route of travel from parking lot to and through the space • Separate areas for large and small dogs • Dog park rules posted prominently at entrance • Separate entrance to park transition area, as well as to small and large dog areas • All areas fenced with a solid base to discourage digging • A good mix of agility equipment to accommodate large and small dogs • Strategically placed lighting for extended hours • Dog waste bags and receptacles • Shaded benches to encourage socialization • A mix of surfacing to emulate nature and offer walking paths • High-low water fountain to accommodate both dogs and their owners • Trash receptacles to promote park cleanliness • Bike parking to encourage alternate modes of travel • Trees and shrubs to provide aesthetics and shade

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park and placing the agility equipment at a higher elevation. Where needed, an underdrain system was installed to help divert stormwater to a pond, creating more effective drainage after heavy rainfall. No matter the size, all dog parks start with community support. Be sure to hold meetings within the community where you are planning the dog park, and allow community members to share their thoughts. Be prepared to deal with concerns, as well as encourage advocates, by having a master plan in place to share proposed hours, rules and maintenance. Much of the concern about dog parks comes from people not understanding how the space will operate, so being able to address these concerns early will help build advocacy. If there is a dog expert who can be present, invite them to address concerns that

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non-dog owners may have. Dog parks encourage social behavior in dogs and park rules help address most potential issues, so being able to articulate this is an important step in neighborhood support. In addition to providing owners with a place where their dogs can get the daily movement and activity they need, community dog parks also can be a place to train and familiarize them with the skills required to master playful obstacles or compete in the sport of agility. Dogs love the opportunity to run and play, while owners also enjoy the opportunity to socialize with each other, so including a mix of amenities that promotes enjoyment for both is an important step in creating a well-loved dog park. Amenities help dogs build confidence, strengthen muscles and build challenge by incorporating elevation changes, jumping and moving through unfamiliar spaces. They also help the owner get exercise. Dog owners will also appreciate shady places to sit, access to water fountains and restrooms, and waste/litter receptacles to help ensure the space stays clean. Be sure the dog park rules are posted prominently at each entrance. Don’t forget the importance of marketing the space to ensure usage of the dog park, as well as promote knowledge of rules, hours and other useful information. Add the information to your park website, and if you have staffing to manage it, create a Facebook or other social media page to help promote the site, events at the dog park, contests and serve as a place for photo submissions of people and their pets having fun! The Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission

Dog parks allow dogs to get ample offleash exercise and social activity with other dogs, promoting a decrease in the level of troublesome behavior.

spaces, and the benefits of these off-leash spaces are clear. As people continue to move to urban centers and the trend of bringing the family pet along gains strength, the demand for spaces to exercise and socialize with their pets continues to expand. By including dog parks in our overall master plans, we can help extend health benefits to people and improve the quality of life and community capital across the country.

operates three dog parks and hosts several events, designed to bring pet owners together and generate revenue to support maintenance of the dog parks. Their popular Yappy Hour event includes live music,

food and beverages and is one of many events that helps to ensure the dog parks remain clean and welcoming. Dog parks are one of the fastest-growing amenities in public

Detailed references for this article are available at reation-magazine/2018/November/ dog-parks. Anne-Marie Spencer is the Corporate Vice President of Marketing for PlayCore (

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Raleigh, North Carolina’s Dog Park Study By Sonia Myrick



ithin the pages of this issue of Parks & Recreation is the often-repeated refrain about the growing demand for more dog parks and off-leash spaces where dogs can be free to run and explore. Most major metropolitan areas in the United States have, are or will be looking at how to meet this demand in the face of rapidly diminishing open and green spaces. This year, the city of Raleigh undertook just such an in-depth study, part of an action item in its 2014 Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources System Plan. Through a community needs assessment, it became clear that dog parks are an important park use with an unmet need in this city.

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The Need So, why does Raleigh need more dog parks? It’s estimated that by 2023, a staggering 100,000-plus dogs will live in the city! Currently, one-third of its approximately 200,000 households have at least one dog, and Raleigh is projected to see its total number of households grow by almost 10 percent over the next five years. Like most major cities, the focus is on high-density development: 60 percent of all new residential units in Raleigh are multifamily apartments. That’s a lot of people and pets clamoring for easily accessible spaces where they and their pets can recreate. Recognizing this growing demand, the Raleigh Dog Park Study was an effort to get out in front of future growth and explore what options are available to meet the increasing need for dog parks. First, a service area analysis was used to identify which areas of the city had adequate access to existing dog parks and which areas would remain underserved even after the construction of the additional dog parks the city already plans to build. Determining which areas should be prioritized, and what innovative strategies could be used to meet the need for dog parks, would require a process that included input from the public, expertise from city of Raleigh staff and an analysis of geographic and demographic data. The Method Beginning in January 2018, city of Raleigh staff — a diverse group that included park managers, park

In addition to the online Dog Park Study survey, community input was collected in a number of ways, including through eventbased public outreach and social media.

planners, urban designers and animal control officers — designed the planning process. It would include a comprehensive community survey and an event-based public outreach strategy. Throughout the Dog Park Study, staff also worked with citizen volunteers on the Parks Committee of Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board (PRGAB) to design the community survey, shape the planning process, report on progress and provide a forum for public comment. The Dog Park Study survey was designed to help the city understand who, why, where, when and how often people use Raleigh’s dog parks. In addition to gathering public input about the types of amenities and design features they value, determining where the city should invest in building future dog parks was a core goal of the process. When asked how far they were willing to walk or drive to a dog park, most survey respondents said 5–10 minutes was a reasonable amount of time. This feedback was layered with data from other spatial factors, such as adoption records, concentrations of dog ownership and locations of dog-friendly apartments to identify those areas of the city that were likely to have the highest unmet need for dog parks. Community outreach was organized around a series of dog-friendly special events hosted throughout the spring and summer, including five pop-up dog parks at various locations around downtown Raleigh. These pop-up dog parks were created using temporary fencing to convert underutilized spaces into a dog park for a day or weekend at a time. In addition to direct outreach

at special events, opportunities to participate were advertised at existing dog parks and through geographically targeted social media ads to underrepresented areas of the city. Public input was primarily gathered through an online community survey and interactive pub-

Pop-up dog parks, like the one above, created with temporary fencing and gates and basic dog park amenities can help address some of the dog park demand in Downtown Raleigh on a temporary basis.

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A city of Raleigh resident and his dog enjoy one of several dog-friendly events held as part of the Dog Park Study.

“The Dog Park Study process had an incredible impact on how we view these facilities, and how they function as part of a complete park system.” lic message boards on the Dog Park Study project website (https://pub Over the course of the six-month public outreach process, more than 4,000 people attended the various dog-friendly pop-up events, 500 unique comments were captured through online message boards and more than 1,200 participants took the Dog Park Study survey. In September, following several months of public engagement, a Key Issues Report was published online along with focused questions addressing the most important and controver30 Parks & Recreation

sial issues that had come up during the process. The feedback gathered through this Key Issues survey was incorporated into a draft Dog Park Study report. In October, this draft plan was presented to the PRGAB in a public forum, with further discussions and final board recommendation anticipated in November. The final plan is expected to be presented to Raleigh’s City Council in early December, wrapping up the year-long Dog Park Study process. The Recommendations By taking the time to engage city residents across multiple channels, Raleigh obtained the data necessary to inform future planning, design, delivery, operation and maintenance, and creation of policies for its public dog parks The Dog Park Study report provides a set of recommendations organized

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around five Key Issues: dog park access, policy, design, stewardship and options for a downtown dog park. These recommendations are accompanied by a menu of implementation strategies, acknowledging that meeting the growing demand for dog parks will require a mix of traditional dog park construction, expanded dog-friendly programs and special events, increased civic participation and partnerships between the city and private development community. Several areas of community consensus also emerged from the Key Issues survey, including that participants were against requiring memberships for dog park access and wanted to maintain the current dog park policy, which stipulates that “dogs are only allowed off-leash in Raleigh’s public parks if they are within the secure, fenced area of designated dog parks.” To read the entire study, including the Appendices that contain dog park design guidelines and a pop-up dog park handbook, visit https://publicin “The Dog Park Study process had an incredible impact on how we view these facilities, and how they function as part of a complete park system,” says T.J. McCourt, planning supervisor for the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. “We understand now how important they are — not just as places for dogs, but places for people. “The most surprising finding to me was the number of people who told us dog parks are the only

The Dog Park Study survey revealed that Northwest Raleigh was the section of the city most in need of a new dog park.

reason they visit our public parks,” McCourt continues. “That tells me these facilities reach a segment of the community we would otherwise miss. For many people, dog parks provide a social value and community benefit that go far beyond simply ‘areas for dogs to get exercise.’” Conclusion Dog parks are as much for people as they are for their pets. People are also a critical element in the success of any dog park system. Time and dedication on the part of volunteers, who help to “enforce rules, report incidents, stock bag dispensers, maintain and spread mulch, and take on many other es-

sential tasks that keep our dog parks clean and safe,” are crucial. Also crucial are donors who, through individual giving or corporate sponsorships, are willing to contribute to the establishment and maintenance of these facilities. As this study reveals, building a successful system of dog parks requires the investment of many players across various city departments, public-private entities and city residents. Sonia Myrick is the Executive Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine (



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Parks & Recreation



Beaches as Coastal Resilience By Derek Brockbank


eaches are America’s favorite playground. To most Americans, just the word “beach” conjures up images of youthful summers, spring break parties, family vacations or relaxing retirement. Beaches are fun, and the numbers bear that out: 200 million Americans visit a U.S. beach every year, more than all the National Parks combined. Beach tourism helps generate $225 billion in revenue annually, a major component of the U.S. travel and tourism sector that is one of the fastest growing parts of the U.S. economy. Beaches, like parks, come in many shapes and sizes and are managed by different parts of government. National seashores are part of the National Parks System; states, counties, cities and towns all manage beaches, and, in most states, private ownership of beaches extends only to mean high-tide line, so the tidal and swash zones are public property with requirements for public access. While most people don’t think about beach management or engineering as they lie on their blanket soaking up the sun, many beaches — more than 800

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miles of beach in the United States — have been engineered or nourished to maintain certain characteristics.

Healthy Coastlines Beaches are far more than sun, surf and recreation. The American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) advocates for healthy coastlines that offer four interconnected values: a. Protection from coastal hazards (storms, sea-level rise, etc.) b. Economic vitality

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c. Ecologic health d. Recreation These beach attributes help coastal communities withstand and bounce back from annual winter nor’easters to episodic El Niños to a once-in-a-lifetime hurricane. The upfront investment in properly maintaining and managing beaches can save billions of dollars in recovery costs (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated the federal shore protection projects saved $1.9 billion in damages during Hurricane Sandy) and allow residents to quickly return to regular life after a storm. The habitat value of beaches helps wildlife populations in ways seawalls or “hardened” shorelines cannot, and the economic value of coastlines — not only from tourism, but also from fishing, marine industry and home value — support diverse jobs and individual wealth.

Before (Top Image - July 26, 2017) and After (Bottom Image - September 4, 2017) looking north at the portion of Southern Shores constructed.

So, what is meant by “healthy coastline”? Unfortunately, there is no single answer since all coastlines differ geologically and biologically. For much of the United States, a healthy coastline starts with a wide beach where the sand matches the composition of what would naturally be in the area. Grain size and color can impact beach slope, temperature and chemical composition, which in turn impacts what micro fauna live in the sand and, therefore, what wildlife is likely to be found on the beach. A vegetated dune system is also common and is particularly beneficial in reducing risk from storm surge. Unlike a seawall, a dune can grow over time, as vegetation traps wind-blown sand and can “heal” itself from minor damage during a storm. Behind the beach/dune system, a healthy coastline may include back-bays, wetlands and estuaries, which absorb an influx of water (either from surge or from river flood) and provide a land-water interface that supports human and wildlife needs. A healthy coastline is more than just a geologically and biologically resilient coast. It has collaborative management, regulation and funding across government sectors. Since beaches provide local, regional and national benefits, their restoration is often funded through a combination of local and federal tax dollars. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has multiple roles in maintaining beaches. It oversees federal permitting and regulations for all beach re-nourishment projects and has been tasked by Congress to rebuild some beaches that have a positive benefit-to-cost ratio for the flood-risk reduction they provide. For some beach projects, the town or county, rather than the Army Corps, leads the project. These towns will

often hire coastal consultants and/ or engineering firms to do the project planning, engineering and design.

The Importance of Engaged Stakeholders Finally, a healthy coastline has engaged stakeholders (landowners, residents, businesses, academics, etc.) who understand the challenges of dynamic and populated coasts, actively plan for future conditions and educate coastal users about how to live with the coast — how individual actions impact coastal conditions and how coastal conditions can impact lives. Communities that understand a beach and dune system will reduce risk but cannot provide guaranteed protection have plans for how and when to rebuild after a storm. They also understand how sea-level rise and increasing storm intensity will inevitably change their beach and community, and they will be far more resilient than disengaged communities. ASBPA is a national organization of beach and coastal “practitioners” — the engineers and scientists who specialize in beach restoration and the managers, planners and policymakers whose focus is maintaining healthy coastlines. We advance the science and policy solutions that will improve America’s beaches and coastlines, advocating for coastal research funding, federal and local funding for beach restoration and maintenance, regional planning and regulatory frameworks that allow for restoration to happen quickly and efficiently. We are more narrowly focused on coastal resources than NRPA, but our vision for using beach parks and “natural infrastructure” to enhance community resilience while supporting public access and recreation values are closely aligned.

ASBPA is also proud to honor a handful of beaches with a “Best Restored Beach” award every year. We believe it’s important to recognize beaches that have been successfully restored with the goals of risk reduction, ecological health, economic viability and recreation, with a community engaged in the restoration process. As our nation moves forward into an era of rising seas and extreme weather, America’s “Best Restored Beaches” are some of the nation’s best examples of community coastal resilience projects. Find out more about American Shore & Beach Preservation Association at; find out how to nominate your coastal or beach park for a “Best Restored Beach” award at: Detailed references for this article can be found at reation-magazine/2018/November/ Beaches-as-Coastal-Resilience. Derek Brockbank is the Executive Director for the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (

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Parks & Recreation




‘Courtesy Hours’ for Off-Leash Dogs in Public Parks By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


ncreasingly, dog owner groups and individual citizens are encouraging their city and county park departments to implement unfenced, off-leash areas in local parks. Due to existing ordinances, regulations and statutes (so-called “Leash Laws”), and perhaps the perceived threat and fear of governmental liability, many public park agencies have maintained a blanket prohibition against off-leash dogs in public parks, outside of fenced areas. Questions of liability and safety may understandably arise when considering the feasibility of implementing a park policy that would allow dogs off-leash in parks under certain conditions as a more “dog friendly” alternative to fenced-in, designated dog run areas. As illustrated by the “Juniper Park” court opinion described below, one such alternative was to perpetuate a tradition of informal “courtesy hours” for off-leash dogs

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in parks. This unwritten park policy, however, generated 20 years of complaints, controversy and, ultimately, litigation by community opponents of this practice, demanding enforcement of existing “Leash Laws.” Whether or not to create an off-leash policy for dogs is generally left to the judgment and discretion of local officials, who are authorized and charged with the responsibility to manage public

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parks. Accordingly, courts will not second-guess or question administrative decisions made by agencies and officials exercising their judgment and discretion to manage public parks in a manner consistent with the scope of their legal authority under state or local law. Such immune administrative discretion would generally include decisions regarding where and when dogs could be off-leash in public parks, if at all. As a result, resolution of potential off-leash controversies and conflicts between dog owners and other park users is a public relations/political issue better left to the judgment and discretion of local government officials, not a legal issue for courts to decide.

Liability is also a non-issue. On the issue of potential liability, applicable state law would likely provide public park agencies with policy/planning immunity on the decision whether to restrict dogs in the parks, including the operational details of implementing an applicable leash law and/or off-leash policy. Moreover, the alleged failure to effectively enforce existing leash laws or an off-leash policy would generally be immune from governmental liability under general police protection/prosecutorial discretion immunity. Further, on the issue of potential liability for injuries to park users associated with leashed or unleashed dogs in public parks, in most situations, the role of a park agency would be limited to that of landowner. Accordingly, the mere presence of leashed and unleashed dogs in parks would not constitute an “unreasonably dangerous condition on the premises” necessary to provide a legal basis for landowner liability. On the contrary, the legal responsibility, if any, would lie with the dog owner, not the public park agency, for any injuries associated with leashed or unleashed dogs in public parks.

“…the legal responsibility, if any, would lie with the dog owner, not the public park agency, for any injuries associated with leashed or unleashed dogs in public parks.” Health Code § 161.05a, which, in common parlance, is known as the “Leash Law” provides that “a person who owns, possesses or controls a dog shall not permit it to be in any public place or in any open or unfenced area abutting on a public place unless the dog is effectively restrained by a leash or chain not more than six feet long.” Similarly, Section 1-04 [i] of the Rules of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation provide, in pertinent part, that no person owning or possessing any animal “shall cause or allow such animal to be unleashed or out of control in any park, except as permitted by the Commissioner.”

Off-Leash Political Controversy In the Matter of Juniper Park Civic Assn. Inc. v. City of New York, 831 N.Y.S.2d 360 (11/30/2006), a nonprofit civic association, the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA), sought a court order to compel the city of New York (NYC) to enforce provisions of the New York City Health Code and the Rules of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, both of which required dogs in parks to be leashed. Formed in 1942, JPCA is “dedicated to preserving the quality of life in and around Middle Village, Elmhurst and Maspeth, Queens County.” The name of the organization is derived from a New York City park, Juniper Valley Park, located in Middle Village, Queens. NYC, through the Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks Department), was responsible for “maintaining, policing and administering” NYC parks, including Juniper Valley Park. Another nonprofit umbrella organization of various dog owner groups, the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups (NYCDOG), filed a motion with the court to intervene in this case. The NYC Health Code and Park Rules govern the walking of dogs in New York City and, among other things, prohibit dogs from being present in parks without being leashed. Specifically, New York City




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JPCA claimed “park patrons are threatened and at risk” from what JPCA characterized as non-enforcement and “active encouragement of violations of the Leash Law,” including the Parks Department’s “own rules between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.,” which allowed dogs in parks to be off-leash. JPCA claimed the Parks Department’s non-enforcement of applicable Leash Laws have “continued despite numerous complaints and demands for enforcement by

As noted by the court, the Public Health Code was “not a legislatively enacted law, but rather, like it expressly states, a code. 36 Parks & Recreation

JPCA, its members, community residents and other civic and political organizations.” NYC denied JPCA’s claim of “comprehensive non-enforcement” of Leash Laws, but admitted “the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation (Commissioner) has granted permission for dogs to be off-leash in specified areas in some parks for the limited hours of 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.”

Unwritten Policy Based on the record and arguments in this case, the court noted “the genesis of this dispute dates back almost 20 years” when the Commissioner at the time instituted an “unwritten policy” establishing “courtesy hours” during which dogs would be permitted to be un-

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leashed in certain portions of parkland in the city. According to the Parks Department, this “unwritten policy” has been adopted by several ensuing Commissioners of Parks and now encompasses the hours between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. JPCA claimed “the Commissioner does not have the authority to enact such a policy in the face of the explicit language of the Leash Law,” as well as the Parks Department’s own “Leash Law” in its written rules. In response, NYC and NYCDOG claimed off-leash exercise benefited dogs and their owners. Moreover, considering “the increasing proportion of the citizenry owning dogs,” NYCDOG contended society benefited from “well-adjusted canines.” Specifically, NYCDOG attributed the current vitality of all New York City parks to the single fact that dogs have been allowed to roam off-leash. In opposition to these claims, JPCA submitted photographs, news articles and affidavits to support the claim that “park patrons are threatened and at risk” by the Parks Department’s unwritten policy, which established “courtesy hours” for dogs to roam off-leash. As characterized by the court, JPCA’s material “taken in a vacuum, would lead to the inescapable conclusion that any individual daring to venture in or near a City park would expect to be harassed by marauding hordes of vicious dogs whose owners sit idly by viewing the carnage, much like spectators in the Roman Coliseum.” While characterizing these arguments by NYCDOG and JPCA as “philosophically interesting,” the court found their positions to be “totally irrelevant to the legal

issues that must be decided.” As described by the court, the legal issue to be addressed was “the extent of the Commissioner’s authority to permit dogs to roam off-leash in parks in light of the fact that other rules apparently prohibit such conduct.” NYC claimed that “courtesy hours” were a valid exercise of the Parks Department’s authority because “the Commissioner is authorized by the City Charter to manage the parks and establish rules and regulations for the use of same.” JPCA, however, argued that the off-leash policy was in “clear contravention of a ‘law’ which the Commissioner has decided is not binding upon him due to his office.” According to JPCA, the Commissioner “cannot usurp the legislature that has created laws for the protection of the general public.”

found the Health Code was not promulgated by the New York City Council, but by the Board of Health of the New York City Department of Health under a grant

of rule-making authority in the New York City Charter. Similarly, the court found the New York City Charter authorized the Commissioner of the Parks Depart-

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Administrative Regulatory Code According to the court, JPCA’s argument exhibited “a fundamental misunderstanding of the ‘laws’ at issue.” As noted by the court, the Public Health Code was “not a legislatively enacted law, but rather, like it expressly states, a code.” As noted by the court, there was a “fundamental distinction” between a “law, or more accurately a statute” created by a legislative body and a “code.” Unlike a legislated statute, the court described a “code” as an agency’s exercise of administrative powers granted by a legislative body to “make rules and regulations” to achieve the legislative intent of a given law. In this instance, the court

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ment to “establish and enforce” the Rules of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Subject to the requirements of the City Administrative Procedure Act, the court further found the Health Code and the Parks Department Rules were “not only created by nearly identical processes,” but “each [is] deemed to have the force and effect of law” with “violations of each are punished as misdemeanors.” While the Leash Law “subject of these regulations may fall predominately within the rubric of public health,” the court noted that fact did not necessarily require “the Health Code to be treated as superior or controlling on the issue of unleashed dogs in public parks.”

38 Parks & Recreation

On the contrary, while the City Health Code acknowledged the “Department of Health is the City agency with primary responsibility in the field of public health,” the Department of Health was “not the only agency in New York City with duties relating to health.” The Health Code expressly noted other agencies involved with health included “the Department of Parks and Recreation with recreational facilities and the parks.” Further, a major consideration in the Health Code was to avoid “administrative and legal duplication or inconsistency with the law and activities of other government agencies” with “their own codes and regulations.” In this instance, the court determined the Commissioner was not

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attempting to “override a legislative mandate.” As a result, the court found the Leash Law provisions in the Health Code would not supersede the Parks Department Rules.

Off-Leash Authority and Discretion The issue before the court, therefore, was to resolve the apparent inconsistency between the Health Code and the Parks Department Rules. As noted by the court, the Health Code contained “a blanket prohibition against dogs being permitted off-leash in public.” While the Parks Department Rules contained a “similar prohibition,” the court found the Parks Department Rules would permit dogs to be offleash inside city parks when within established “dog runs” and “as permitted by the Commissioner.” Since the Health Code acknowledged “the Parks Department’s concurrent oversight of public health issues as they relate to the City parks,” and “recognizing the Commissioner’s jurisdiction over the management of City parks and duty to promulgate rules in relation thereto,” the court concluded “the Parks Department Rules, including its exceptions, are controlling under the circumstances.” In reaching this conclusion, the court noted that JPCA had “not challenged the propriety of the establishment of section 1-04 [i] of the Parks Department Rules, which expressly vests the Commissioner with the authority to permit off-leash activity at his discretion.” Instead, JPCA had argued, unsuccessfully, the superiority of the Health Code over Parks Department Rules. As a result, the court found the

Enforcement Discretion As characterized by the court, JPCA had also demanded that the Parks Department be compelled to “enforce the rule prohibiting off-leash activity during periods other than the courtesy hours”; i.e., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. To support the alleged failure to enforce Leash Laws, JPCA had submitted sworn statements, letters and newspaper articles to show “various attacks upon park users by unleashed dogs.” In the opinion of the court, JPCA’s “non-evidentiary anecdotal” information did not prove the Parks Department was not enforcing the Parks Rules or the Health Code from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. While expressing sympathy for the victims of these dog attacks, the court found reports of these incidents did not “constitute legally sufficient proof ” that the Parks Department was “blanketly not enforcing the applicable rules through the issuance of summonses or custodial arrests.” In response to JPCA’s anecdotal information and belief that Parks Department Rules were not being enforced, the Parks Department offered a sworn statement that its officers “may and do” cite owners for unleashed dogs outside the “courtesy hours,” as well as citing

“owners who are unable to control their dogs” any time of the day. On this issue of alleged non-enforcement, or non-enforcement in general, the court acknowledged it was “without power to intervene.” As a general legal principle, the court noted “the decision whether and in what instances police power should be exercised is peculiarly and unquestionably a discretionary function,” not subject to second-guessing by the courts. According to the court, it could not issue an order to compel a general course of official conduct; i.e., directing the Parks Department to enforce the Parks Department Rules from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., because it would be “impossible for a court to oversee the performance of such duties.”

Formalize Off-Leash Policy While the court was “keenly aware” that it could “dispose of the legal issue presented,” it acknowledged, “the broad emotional effect of the issues raised will remain.” Accordingly, considering “the angst and vitriol exhibited” in this case by JPCA and NYCDOG, the court found “common sense would dictate that something more than an ‘unwritten policy’ governing the off-leash use of parkland by dogs which is known by few and misunderstood by many, is required in this instance.” The court, therefore, recommended that the Parks Department follow through on its oral and written statements to the court that the Parks Department would “formalize the details of the current off-leash policy within the Park Rules.” In so doing, the court expressed its hope that the Parks Department statements were “more than mere puffery.” In the


Commissioner was indeed authorized to implement “courtesy hours” for off-leash dog activity in city parks, based on the “language of the Parks Rules, which expressly allow the Commissioner to permit such activity.” Further, the court found the New York City Charter had expressly delegated authority and powers to the Commissioner “to determine whether to permit off-leash activity within City parks.”

absence of a formal and clearly understood off-leash policy within the Parks Rules, the court envisioned an unacceptable alternative: “simply more endless litigation over what is, inherently, an administrative and political problem.”

Conclusion As a result, the court denied JPCA’s petition for the court to issue an order compelling the Parks Department to “enforce section 165.05 of the New York City Health Code and section 1-04 of the Rules of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation” in a manner that would eliminate “courtesy hours” and require dogs to be leashed at all times in NYC public parks. 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):

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Dogs in Parks: Managing the Waste By Richard J. Dolesh


n a word, it’s about the poop. Environmental management of dog waste has become a more pressing issue for park and recreation agencies as the percentage of households with dogs increases and the demand for dog parks continues to grow. However, dog waste is not a responsibility that many people within park and rec agencies, want to deal with. Considering the otherwise stellar environmental performance of most park and recreation agencies in addressing environmental and waste issues, dog waste just doesn’t seem to rise to top of the design, maintenance and management menu. In fact, for many dog parks or off-leash dog areas managed by parks, once the dog waste is out of sight after flushing it off pads or dog areas, it is out of mind as well.

America’s nearly 90 million dogs produce about 11 million tons of dog waste per year. The scope of the problem of dog waste in America is huge. America’s nearly 90 million dogs produce about 11 million tons of dog waste per year. A widely 40 Parks & Recreation

quoted estimate of the volume of dog poop by a commercial dogwaste collection company, named Doody Calls, is that it would fill a line of dump trucks stretching bumper to bumper from Boston to Seattle. The stark fact is that only about 60 percent of dog owners pick up after their dogs; 40 percent do not. This

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seems to hold true with some exceptions on the type of area according to studies done in parks, in urban communities, and in suburban areas. A 2017 Penn State University study of dog waste for the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Center in Open Space and Mountain Parks of Boulder (Colorado) found that dog caretakers with dogs on a leash were most likely to pick up after their dogs and dispose of the waste in receptacles. However, park visitors with dogs said the infrequent number of pet waste stations made them less likely to pick up and dispose of their dog’s waste. The problems are not just from the solid waste and nutrients that can wash into local streams and lakes, but also the potential for spreading pathogenic bacteria and viruses, including E.coli, salmonel-

la, cryptosporidium and a range of intestinal worms and parasites that can be transmitted to other dogs and mammals. Numerous studies have shown that much of the bacteria in urban waters comes from pet waste.

Tackling the Problem at the Source Prince George’s County, Maryland, is meeting the problem head on. The county has launched a comprehensive effort to deal with dog waste in its communities and has applied several creative and innovative strategies to get people engaged. Dawn Hawkins-Nixon, the associated director for sustainability for the Department of the Environment (DOE) in Prince George’s County, says that the catalyst for their initiatives was the granting of the county’s MS4 permit in 2014. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulates the conveyances of stormwater into the waters of the United States, and Prince George’s County’s permit contained a requirement that the county reduce harmful bacteria levels in the Anacostia River and Piscataway Creek watersheds.


Having more, conveniently placed pet waste stations increases the likelihood park visitors will clean up their dog’s waste.

Numerous studies have shown that much of the bacteria in urban waters comes from pet waste. This requirement coincided with the growing concern residents expressed to the county about pet waste in common areas. “The lack of responsibility by pet owners was a major concern by residents, who wanted us to do something about it,” says Hawkins-Nixon. This led the DOE to begin a comprehensive program of education and awareness intended to change peoples’ behavior. The scale of the problem is significant, according to Hawkins-Nixon. DOE estimates there are 150,000 dogs within the county that produce 37,400,000 lbs. of waste per year. Since only 60 percent, at best, pick up, this leaves 45,000 lbs. per day that is, essentially, untreated sewage. “We realized this could not be just a traditional paper campaign with signs and flyers,” Hawkins-Nixon shares. “We knew we had to engage residents and school-age kids. We developed games and educational materials and made them bilingual as well.” The agency was also innovative in its outreach. One of the games staff took to community events and schools

7.18NSGA_QPad_concepts_3.indd PM W W W . P A R K S1 A N D R E C R E A T I O N . O R G | N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 | 7/18/18 Parks 3:35 & Recreation



was a bean bag pooper scooper game, where kids got points for depositing their “dog waste” in the proper receptacles and waste stations. Hawkins-Nixon says that the gross-out factor drove kids wild with delight, and it proved to be an effective way to communicate their objectives. Another innovative approach Prince George’s County has taken is to hold Pet Waste Summits — one in 2017, one in 2018 — that drew more than 75 people representing various com-

Humorous signs, such as these, help educate community members about the importance of cleaning up after their pets.

We care about our community, pets, and streams.



Dogs Poop in the Yard, Park or Dog Park.

42 Parks & Recreation

Disease Causing Bacteria & Parasites Travel with Rain Water Runoff.

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People Get Sick!

munity organizations. The DOE partners with the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center and the People for Change Coalition and has developed a small grant program, using stormwater management fees, to provide pet waste stations and signage to communities. They have provided local communities with 86 stations so far and plan to have 146 placed by 2019. Debra Weller, environmental section head of DOE, says that local communities have been extremely supportive, and the messages of public health, environmental quality and community appearance have really resonated with residents. Many of these inner Beltway communities in Prince George’s County are integrally linked to the stream valley parklands of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC), which connects communities to these linear parks by trails and by community and neighborhood parks. MNCPPC also owns five dog parks, which are popular and well-used, within these communities. Reducing the impacts of dog waste pollution from dog parks and within the larger community requires a

full effort by county agencies and community organizations. According to Hawkins-Nixon, the county agencies and community organizations are looking at ways to make the campaign sustainable and renewable. They are building capacity with their organizational partners. “It makes a

…only about 60 percent of dog owners pick up after their dogs. big difference when a community takes ownership. It is so much more meaningful than when residents are being told they need to do this by the government. When a community invests in an effort, it has a much better chance of success,” Hawkins Nixon explains. The bottom line is that the county is improving public health, reducing runoff into streams and waterways, and making communities more of a place to love and appreciate. “It’s great to be able to go out to public places and play with your kids safely,” Hawkins-Nixon adds. Prince George’s County has recognized the problems presented by the high percentage of dog owner-

Community members play the bean bag pooper scooper game, which teaches them about the importance of cleaning up after their pets.


2nd Prince  George's  County

PET WASTE  MANAGEMENT  SUMMIT   March  29,  Largo,  MD  

Sustainable Maryland is pleased to invite you (as a Prince George's County elected official, municipal or county staffer, Green Team member, homeowners/civic association board member or engaged citizen) to attend the…

2nd Prince George's County Pet Waste Management Summit Where: County Conference Room,1801 McCormick Drive, Largo, MD When: Thursday, March 29, 6:00 - 9:00pm Cost: FREE OVERVIEW:

Attendees will hear about the County's current pet waste management campaign, share best practices, and access resources to start their own local pet waste management program.



AGENDA: 6:00 - 6:25pm:

Exhibits/Networking/Light Refreshments

6:25 - 6:30pm:

Welcome from Adam Ortiz, Prince George's DOE

6:30 - 6:50pm:

Defining the Problem

6:50 - 7:50pm:

Phase I Update: Successes & Challenges from 2017

7:50 - 8:00pm:


8:00 - 8:40pm:

Pet Waste Resources for Your Community

8:40 - 8:55pm:

Phase II: New Municipalities and HOAs in 2018

8:55 - 9:00pm:

Wrap Up

Light refreshments will be served. Free parking.


Pet Waste Summits are another innovative approach by Prince George’s County to help with pet waste management.

ship and taken a direct and energetic approach to address the challenges. Park and recreation agencies with a commitment to environmental and public health must take notice of the impacts dog waste has on their communities and dog parks and forthrightly acknowledge the problems and deal with issues. Our parks, trails and streets will be much cleaner and healthier for dogs and people. Richard J. Dolesh is NRPA’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives (

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Parks and Health Equity An avenue to support health and wellness for all By Viniece Jennings, Ph.D., Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., MPH, and James Dills, MUP, MPH


arginalized areas often have poor access to quality parks. This limited access to green space can negatively impact public health and well-being, especially in communities already facing numerous challenges to success. The term “health disparities” refers to major gaps in health between different groups.

Typically, health disparities arise in groups that experience systemic obstacles to their quality of life based on race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender, physical or mental disability, geographic location, or forms of discrimination or exclusion. Addressing these systemic obstacles — and the disparities they create — requires perspectives rooted in health equity. Parks and greens pace strategies need to be part of these solutions. A growing body of scientific evi-

44 Parks & Recreation

dence suggests that access to parks and green space may alleviate health disparities observed in vulnerable populations. For example, studies have shown that access to urban parks is associated with lower risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diminished mental health and other health-related concerns. Since health equity involves the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people,” there is an opportunity to be more thoughtful about the role parks can play in promoting wellness.

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Our recent commentary, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, describes how parks are related to various dimensions of health equity. For example, quality parks can enhance the quality of life in ways that encourage people to explore the outdoors, meet others and engage in various types of physical activity or exercise. Figure 1, “Illustration of factors that support health equity,” is from the article and illustrates the link between green spaces and some dimensions of health equity: Quality parks are just one aspect of health equity at the community level. Building a holistic and achievable vision of health equity requires collaboration from a wide range of

perspectives, and parks are an important piece of the puzzle. They can promote youth engagement, walkability, job creation, environmental quality and social improvements. Parks can deliver safe and affordable venues for physical activity. Supporting active and passive recreation opportunities for people of all ages readily allows parks to serve as tools for physical and mental health promotion. However, the wide range of health benefits associated with parks can’t be fully realized when the needed resources are distributed inequitably across communities based on racial, socioeconomic or geographic factors. For instance, studies often find lower-quality parks, with fewer amenities, like playgrounds, in lower-income communities — if they are present at all. Efforts to reduce play deserts, which pertain to areas with limited access to play spaces, such as parks, green spaces or recreation centers, are an avenue to increase exposure to the health benefits of parks, such as improved physical activity, socialization and stress reduction. As new parks are established in underserved communities, the implementation of holistic strategies is needed to pair park development with efforts to address housing affordability, quality schools and other measures aimed at addressing the social determinants of health so that the populations that can most benefit from new park developments reap the benefits “in place.” These coordinated and collaborative strategies, especially in urban centers undergoing revitalization, can put park engagement at the intersection of effective efforts to advance health equity. The following infographic includes highlights from related

Access to Material Resources • Quality Healthcare • Local Education/Job Opportunities • Food Security • Affordable Housing Options • Opportunities for Home/Property Ownership Regard and Equal Distribution across Socioeconomic boundaries

Enhanced Social Environment • Community Engagement • Strong Social Capital • Presence of Quality Law Enforcement • High Community Satisfaction

Increased Political Power • Inclusive Decision Making • Fair Political Representation • Systems that Challenge Racialized Systems

Quality Natural/Built Environment • Access to Quality Green Spaces • Walkable/Pedestrian Friendly Community • Quality Public Transportation • Distributive Layout of Environmental Burdens

research and initiatives on green space and health: “Green spaces can support placedbased strategies to relieve urban health concerns,” says Dr. Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service. “This can be particularly important in blighted areas that are characterized with vacant lots and overarching social concerns that challenge well-being.” While parks can support health promotion, other studies have discussed concerns about gentrification that could lead to displacing residents who are priced out of their homes because of increasing property values. Broader conditions, where people are born, live, work and age, often described as social determinants of health, are shaped by the distribution of power, money and other resources. These social determinants can have major implications at local, national and global levels.

Programming and Systematic Remedies to Overcome Byproducts (e.g., gentrification)

Conditions that Support Health Equity

Many communities around the country are developing strategies to eliminate health disparities by promoting health equity. Given the outsized role quality parks and green spaces can play in promoting health and wellness, involvement of park professionals and researchers in collaborative efforts to promote community health is crucial. Efforts to achieve health equity through parks can be successful, but they will be more so if diverse perspectives and groups of people are at the table. Detailed references for this article can be found at /parks-and-health-equity. Viniece Jennings, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist with the USDA Forest Service ( Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental and Health Sciences Program at Spelman College (nosborne@ James Dills, MUP, MPH, is a Health Integration Associate in the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University (

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Not Every Community Sees Dog Parks as Essential By Sonia Myrick


ot every community has had positive experiences with dogs or has humanized them to the degree found in many European countries and here in the United States. In an article, titled “The 20 Most Dog-Friendly Countries in The World,” published this past June on Bestlifeonline. com, not surprisingly 16 of the 20 countries listed were in Europe. However, in many non-European countries and cultures, dogs are not pets. They are primarily kept for security; as working animals for hunting, herding and farming; as a means of transportation; and even as food. In the United States, dogs are considered companions, humankinds’ best friend, and sometimes even considered “children.” A 2017 study by the research firm Gale found that “44 percent of millennials see their pets as ‘practice’ for the real deal, with 21 percent citing that as the main reason for welcoming an animal into their homes and another 23 percent saying it was at least part of the reason.” Statistics show that 61 percent of white Ameri46 Parks & Recreation

cans own dogs compared to about 22 percent of blacks, 27 percent of Asians and 40 percent of Hispanics, and these pet owners love their dogs. Dog parks have been touted as a means of strengthening social cohesion, improving neighborhoods and providing a public service for pet owners in dense urban neighborhoods. However, the desire to create more dog parks does not resonate with everyone in the United States, particularly with many in low-income

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Nonet Skyes

black communities. Parks & Recreation sat down with NRPA board member Nonet T. Sykes, to gain some insight about why many African-Americans are not totally on the dog park bandwagon.

Parks & Recreation magazine: In a recent discussion about the value of dog parks to a community, you cautioned that not every community sees dog parks in the same light, and some may outright reject them. Why do you believe this to be so? Nonet Sykes: Black communities have a long history of dogs being used against them and that in some ways, [dogs have been] used as an instrument of oppression and control. In the days of slavery, fugitive slaves were hunted down by dogs, and during the civil rights movement, police dogs were used to control and oppress the black community, so I think that generally [the black community] had a terrifying experience with dogs, and it has only been recently, I would say, that blacks have started to own dogs. P&R: In general, how would you say the black community views the dog park trend? Sykes: It’s a signal that change is coming. They see that gentrification may likely begin to happen, and they’re going to be outnumbered by new people who may not look like them coming into the community and, also, by dogs coming into their community. So, this notion of displacement is likely top of mind. I don’t know that communities of color would necessarily see [a dog park] as a positive amenity. As I think about some of the communities here in Atlanta, there are other amenities that are more important than a dog park. Now, again, you must think about the differences in community — those that are low income, with concentrated poverty,

versus more upper-income communities. Dog parks make sense as an amenity in upper-income, upwardly mobile communities. But, if you’re talking about some black communities where there’s concentration of poverty, the last thing on their minds is a dog park. Is there access to safe and reliable transportation? Are there job centers, retail? Is there a place to buy groceries or coffee? Do we even have a safe place for ourselves to go and sit in a park, not ‘do we have a dog park nearby?’ P&R: What are the cultural norms in black communities that might cause residents not to support a dog park? You’ve covered some of this already, but what other things might there be? Sykes: I think, in the black community, there’s a perception that dogs aren’t clean. They’re seen as dirty, smelly, and there’s this saying — I don’t know how prevalent this is, but I’ve certainly heard it in the black community, that white people love dogs, black people love their dogs. There’s not that great affinity for all dogs. Essentially, I can tolerate my own dog, but I don’t need a whole lot of other people’s dogs. Of course, you’re getting my perspective as a black woman in this world and what I’ve heard from friends. P&R: Are there other things that you can think of that may be cultural perception about dogs and the community? Sykes: My own personal perspective, is that white people value and have an affinity for dogs more than a human life, especially a black human life. There is a perception that some people would go out of their

way to save a random stray dog but wouldn’t go out of their way to save a black life or support a person of color. And many white people regard their dog as their child and make comparisons, often, like they are children, which feels like you’re dehumanizing the value of the lives of people of color. So, it’s deep…it’s deep and it’s pervasive. When you think about the mere introduction of a dog park, it seems very benign in affluent communities that think, ‘Well, why not have a dog park?’ It’d be great to have a place for all the dogs to go and gather, but when you think about many black communities that don’t have a safe place for kids to play, don’t have quality schools, that are a food desert, don’t have grocery stores, and we’re going to spend millions of dollars on a dog park? So, it’s about priorities and it’s about choices, right? What’s more valuable — the quality of life of a dog or the quality of human life?

In the days of slavery, fugitive slaves were hunted down by dogs, and during the civil rights movement, police dogs were used to control and oppress the black community I know it’s uncomfortable sometimes for folks to talk about/think about [these perceptions], but my perspective is that you only move forward when you stop and address those things that can be barriers between us. It’s a disservice to pretend that issues don’t exist. You must talk about it, you have to call it what it is, and talk about it to see the vari-

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ous perspectives and, hopefully, find ways to agree on what makes sense and find a path forward. P&R: So, given the research findings about the health benefits of dog parks — that they support social cohesion, that people who exercise with their dogs are healthier, that communities are healthier with high percentages of dogs — how could parks and rec help improve the perception of dog parks in communities of color? Sykes: I am not making a blanket statement that communities of color are never going to want a dog park. I suggest conducting a community survey and asking communities about the types of amenities they would like to see and include dog parks in the survey. And then maybe have focus groups to provide additional context. If dog parks rank toward the bottom of a community’s list, focus on why that is and then try to unpack some of that. You can also begin sharing information and data about the value and benefits of owning dogs. I think data shared in context and in communication with communities can help change the perception. Focus groups are a great way to understand perceptions. But, you must first start where people are. You have to ask people what they want and not assume that you know what they need or what’s best for the community. P&R: Why do negative perceptions and feelings continue today? Sykes: It’s multifaceted, but it’s likely based on people of color’s lived experiences that have been 48 Parks & Recreation

traumatic over the generations, again, tied to slavery and the civil rights movement and their history with dogs. Stories and images have been passed down for generations. We currently have a civil rights exhibit ( art/atlanta-and-the-civil-rightsmovement-1944-1968/) around the Atlanta BeltLine with 177 images of never-before-seen photos of Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement from 1944 to 1968. It’s the largest outdoor public civil and human rights exhibit in the nation. Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado compiled these images in a book, and we went through the book and made sure we did not include any images with dogs in them, particularly because there was a negative relationship, again, with dogs being used in the civil rights movement. We put Xs over the images that we said could not be blown up and placed on the Atlanta BeltLine. Those are real, hard memories for folks. Either it’s their real, true, lived experience, or they’ve seen it in movies. And, there’s been a resurgence of movies about slavery and the civil rights movement in recent years, so we’re still seeing these images today. That could be one of the reasons why the perceptions continue. Also, for many communities of color, their lives haven’t changed that much. An article I read recently stated that Atlanta has the highest rate of income inequality in the country. The level of economic disparity that exists in the city of Atlanta is the greatest in the nation. If you are born poor in the city of Atlanta, you only have a 4 percent chance of ever making it out of poverty. That’s unacceptable. Many folks still live in deep, concentrated poverty today.

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They can’t afford a dog, they don’t even know where their next meal is coming from. Many are living paycheck to paycheck, and dog ownership is considered a luxury. So, there are the gentrifiers on the BeltLine, who are advocating for dog parks and more parks and green spaces and walking trails, while on other parts of the BeltLine, people are advocating for a grocery store, a decent place to buy fresh produce and food items that are not pre-packaged, processed food. Those disparities are real. P&R: What can be done, in your view, to dispel fears and create greater trust regarding dogs and dog parks? Sykes: I think we’re getting there. It’s going to take time though. Change is hard, change doesn’t happen overnight, and I think if you disaggregate the data by age, you will likely see a greater percentage of black millennials or millennials of color own dogs. So, I think we are moving forward in creating a greater trust regarding dogs, but I think it’s going to take time. Even though it may be healthy for an elderly person to have a dog for companionship, to get out and exercise with, go on walks and all that, it’s about a lifestyle change. And, many of them are set in their ways. They have their perception of dogs, so you just may have to wait for those millennials to get a bit older, become elders, and you’ll likely see a significant shift in perceptions. Sonia Myrick is the Executive Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine ( Richard J. Dolesh is NRPA’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives (

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By Richard J. Dolesh

with your dog in a out of life than being t ge u yo n ca joy re forces for the ow much mo founders and driving the of e on l, ke oc Tr ng County, park?” asks Judy Marymoor Park in Ki at rk pa g do the d past 25 years behin “Disneyland of Dog rk has been called the Pa or mo ary M . ton s, but because it is Washing ractions and amenitie att th wi ed lop ve de is highly d people, as the parks,” not because it rfect park for dogs an pe the t ou ab t jus as o go there considered by all wh per year attest. rs nearly 800,000 visito








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Off-leash dog parks are one of the fastest growing type of parks in cities across the nation. According to The Trust for Public Land, in its annual survey of the 100 largest cities, the number of dog parks has grown by more than 40 percent since 2009. NRPA’s 2018 Agency Performance Review data show that 55 percent of park and recreation agencies now have established dog parks, and, in conversations with directors of park and rec agencies, most agencies are either building a dog park or in the planning stage for one. The National Pet Owners 2017–2018 Survey by the American Pet Products Association reports 60 percent of U.S. households own a dog. With ever-growing dog ownership by American households, park agencies across the country are seeing enthusiastic demand for more offleash dog areas within public parks. Dog parks may be built as standalone parks or incorporated into existing larger parks. They are highly attractive to park visitors and often heavily used by residents

Dog parks are highly attractive to park visitors and often heavily used by residents and destination visitors. and destination visitors. The size of dog parks varies from as small as a small building lot to large areas that encompass hundreds of acres and provide access to trails, lakes, rivers and even ocean beaches. But, size and room to roam are only one criteria, perhaps not even the most important, of what makes a quality dog park. So, what are the characteristics of a great dog park? What amenities and features do people — and dogs — love in the parks they visit? This article examines what makes a good dog park great from the perspective of the designer, the managing agency and volunteer stewards.

Dogs and their caretakers enjoy off-leash time in Marymoor Park in King County, Washington.

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The Designer Perspective “I design dog parks as I would a children’s playground,” says Ken Smith, principal of Ken Smith Design Workshop, an award-winning landscape architecture and design firm in the heart of New York City. “When I started in my profession, there was no body of literature on how to design dog parks. When I started my firm, we realized that there was a great desire for areas for dogs in public places. It came up in community board meetings and other forums, and it led to a demand for the city to provide areas for dogs. As in other parks, the expectation is that we design areas for dogs, as well as we design them for people. “I thought that dog parks should be as interesting and fun as a well-designed children’s playground,” Smith continues. “I look at dog parks as a social space for both dog caretakers and the dogs themselves.” He believes that the philosophy of design is as important as what goes in the park. Smith points out that New York City presents some unique constraints for any type of public park space. “We constantly adapt designs to fit spaces, and we try to get as much into the spaces as we can,” he explains. For dog parks, the key elements that must be in the space — shade, places for dogs to play, ramps and platforms of varying heights for dogs to jump and run, seating for people, water features and a dog-drinking area — all must be fit to the space in a harmonious way. It is important to fit other essential features in the design as well. Smith notes that a good dog park needs a bulletin board because of the need to communicate with

users and for users to know what is expected of them. In the East River Some of the 80 Serve dog park, Smith designed the bulletin Our Dog Area (S. O.D.A.) board to fit in a cutout of a large, fake volunteers who tree. Every dog park needs a storage participated in an October 13, 2018 shed, so, “We designed ours as an , work day at Marymoo r oversize dog house,” he adds. Park in King Coun ty, Smith reports that during a comWashington. munity meeting, dog caretakers expressed a high concern about sanitation and, therefore, were very concerned about the type to socialize, whether of surface that would be in the dog park. “No one was under an umbrella, under natural shade, or very excited about the idea of black asphalt, so we used sitting on benches and picnic tables. “And, of course,” brightly colored, highly durable tennis court paints to says Macchio, “you need to address all the basics — water for dogs and people, a good in-and-out system, give it some life,” he says. He believes that every space well-designed gates and good, clear signage to commuhe designs for people should have an element of surnicate expectations.” prise and fun, and, therefore, added whimsical touches They have separately fenced areas for large and small to what might otherwise be a utilitarian space. dogs, but Macchio notes that in their dog parks, the small dog areas get relatively little use. “We came to The Park Agency Perspective learn that people just didn’t like to be separated from Phil Macchio is the director of Charleston County the areas where all the action was,” he relates. Parks and Recreation in South Carolina. The agency owns and manages the James Island County Park, a dog park that often appears in the top 10 lists of best dog parks in the country. Macchio says, “We have a huge influx of people from around the country who visit Charleston County and bring their dogs. We are in this business for people, and people have dogs. That is just an extension of who we are — we are in the dog business, too.” According to Macchio, the visitation at their three dog parks, which are all located within larger regional parks, is steadily increasing. In addition, they are also seeing demand within infill development areas near downtown Charleston and areas where millennials are seeking to live. “Without question, use is growing,” he says. “Our dog parks are as much a social gathering place as they are a place for people to recreate and exercise with their dogs. There is a lot of HURRY OFFER ENDS interest in small urban dog runs and mini-dog parks 11/30/18 as well.” Macchio also notes that new urban housing Use Code: NRPAM8 and condo development are taking place where public open space is scarce, thus, there is a greater need for places for people and their dogs. Fast The highest priorities for visitors to the department’s Delivery— dog parks, as in other parks, are that they must be clean Ships the day you order! and sanitary. “Shade is also a top priority,” Macchio says. “I can’t overestimate the importance of shade.” 1-800-790-8896 In addition, beyond having a place for dogs to exercise and run off-leash, there needs to be areas for people



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One of the challenges for them has been to maintain high-quality natural grass turf areas. “This is a challenge for everyone operating public dog parks. We have tried multiple strategies — sectioning off areas and periodically closing areas, and other actions. People just don’t want a big dirt field,” Macchio says. The agency closes its dog parks on a regular basis to do maintenance, and it adheres to a strict schedule, which it communicates to the public. He says its maintenance schedule is communicated in multiple ways, including on its website and on signage in the dog parks. Customers have learned quickly, and the maintenance program is well-supported by the public. Charleston County Parks and Recreation goes a step further, according to Macchio. “We want staff to be able to talk with customers knowledgeably, so we contract out with a provider who does dog training and who Dogs and their og has excellent knowledge of “D y caretakers enjo ed st ho n,” oo rn dog behavior and people Day Afte unty by Charleston Co behavior.” Because all their tion Parks and Recrea dog parks are within larger ds an Isl at Palmetto h ut So in rk county parks, there is alPa County






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You need to have a citizens’ stewardship group involved. No matter how many park staff the agency has, there is always a shortage of maintenance staff. ways a staff member available to address a complaint or resolve an issue. “With high use there is the potential for conflicts. It is very important for staff to understand how to deal with people and to understand dog behavior,” Macchio says. Charleston County parks is building a new dog park at Wannamaker Park that improves on each of its previous parks. The new 6.5-acre dog park will have additional parking, a spray pad for dogs, bathrooms and even a dog washing station. Because the agency has had such success with programming and special events at the existing dog parks, the new park will be designed to better host programs and events, such as concerts and food trucks. “We have found,” Macchio explains, “that events and programming expand our reach and enrich the user experience. Innovative programs at our dog parks open up the park to a lot more users and are really well-received by the public.” Some of their most popular events are Pet Fest, an all-day celebration with games, agility contests and an evening concert, and include Yappy Hour, a highly popular weekly happy hour with music and food. Macchio notes that the agency has a beer and wine license and Yappy Hour is a good revenue producer, as well as a great activity for park users. One of their most

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popular events is Dog Day Afternoon, a once-a-year event at the end of the season in which they open the large wave pools in the regional parks to people and dogs for the last use of the year. “We had 1,400 people at our large park and 800 at our smaller park,” he relates. “We charge $15 per dog (humans are free). We have vendors, games and activities. It is pretty cool.” Generating revenue from operations and fees is an important priority for the Charleston County Park and Recreation system. All visitors to the regional parks pay a $2 entrance fee for access to the regional park, but use of the dog parks within the regional park is free. While the dog parks, in and of themselves, do not necessarily generate much revenue, they significantly build numbers for annual passes and daily park entrance fees. According to Macchio, special events and programs at the dog parks are an excellent source of revenue as well. One of the best benefits of the dog parks, he believes, is that they create more opportunities for people, who might not otherwise come to the parks, to visit the parks.

The Volunteer Stewards Perspective Judy Trockel is one of the founders of “Save Our Dog Area” volunteer group, which became “Serve Our Dog Area” in 1995. At that time, the nonprofit group took over management of 40 acres within the 620-acre Marymoor Park of King County, Washington, and established it as an off-leash, voice-control (OLVC) dog area. “Our situation started before the term ‘dog park’ ever existed,” says Trockel, as she describes the history of how their off-leash dog area came to be. Prior to 1995, the park agency allowed a “dog training

Whimsical sculptures, like this giant squirrel, add some playfulness to New York City’s East River Dog Park.



area” within the park. When the master plan for the park was updated, it did not have a dog training area identified. “It led us to form ‘Save Our Dog Area,’ and to advocate for off-leash recreation,” Trockel relates. “King County finally agreed and amended the Master Plan for the park, acknowledging the strong public demand and need for an offleash dog area. The county entered into a seven-year trial agreement with S.O.D.A., and we have stewarded the off-leash dog area ever since.” Trockel continues: “We were just a small advocacy group at the time, and when we received formal recognition, it was kind of an ‘Oh s***! moment.’ Now, what do we do? We realized that we just took on a major responsibility. We had to go from being an ad hoc advocacy group to formal 501(c)3 status as an official stewardship group. “One of the conditions we agreed to was to maintain the original condition of the park,” Trockel says. An argument against highuse dog areas is that they cause environmental degradation of the site. “This was a very important consideration for us, both because of our ideals and to forestall any future attempt to close the dog use area or convert it to another use,” Trockel says. “At the hearing, a man stood up, wagging his finger, and said, ‘I guarantee you that in seven years that area will be destroyed by the presence of dogs,’” she recalls. “Twenty-three years later, we are very proud of our record in keeping this park in as good a shape today as it was then. It is a beautiful area along the Sammamish River. There are six miles of trails, five river access points, and

fields and forests to recreate in. We have a beaver pond, a heronry and beautiful scenery.” Trockel believes there are three important criteria for having a great dog park. First, the size of the park needs to be large enough to handle the use. Second, you need to have a citizens’ stewardship group involved. “No matter how many park staff the agency has,” she says, “there is always a shortage of maintenance staff.” Third, the park agency (city or county) must allow the park to be successful. This has been very important for their dog area. “Groups ask me, ‘What do you mean by that?’” Trockel says. “I mean that they let us take charge of the park and let us do what had to be done. They didn’t tie us up in bureaucracy, but, when we needed help, they extended a hand in partnership and helped us when we had jobs that were too big for us to handle alone.” Trockel believes the park agency has a high degree of trust in S.O.D.A., because the group established credibility with the agency over the course of many years. “It didn’t just happen overnight,” she relates. “We built trust, and we, in turn, support the park system in many ways. It is a great partnership.”

When it comes to managing use with an all-volunteer group, Trockel says the key is to communicate our founding philosophy and to communicate it frequently to our volunteer stewards and to park users. We nurture the concept of stewardship — everyone is responsible for the park. “This is what makes our dog park truly innovative,” she proudly says. In terms of managing the dog park, “Off-leash does not mean out of control,” Trockel says. “It is not our responsibility to control your dog. It is yours. If your dog is not responsive to your voice control, and you don’t have sufficient recall skills, maybe you shouldn’t come to this park. Our group is not an enforcement group. We are a stewardship group. “Dogs are a part of life today,” Trockel adds. “They have gone way beyond their purpose for hunting and herding. People have a love of them as they do their children. We serve the need for allowing people to enjoy and recreate with dogs into their daily life.” Richard J. Dolesh is NRPA’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives (

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CELEBRATING AMERICA’S BACKYARD Getting Innovative in Indy: The 2018 NRPA Annual Conference By Sonia Myrick and Suzanne Nathan


record number of park and rec professionals — approximately 8,000 — traveled to Circle City (Indianapolis), to join us for the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference. This year’s theme, “Celebrating America’s Backyard,” highlighted the fact that parks are the gathering and recreation areas in local communities and was brought to life in the NRPA booth, which featured picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, a large inflatable movie screen and a faux ice cream truck delivering real ice cream! Over the course of four days, attendees had the opportunity to participate in pre-conference and mobile workshops, 12 learning tracks consisting of nearly 300 education sessions, two general sessions and keynote speakers, an exhibit hall showcasing the products and services of more than 450 exhibitors, an opening reception at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and numerous networking events.

Inspiration Tuesday’s Opening General Session, set in a theater-in-the-round style, began with remarks from outgoing chair of the NRPA Board of Directors Leon T. Andrews, Jr. Andrews reminded attendees about the challenge he posed to members when he took the helm at this event last September: to “step up, show up and speak up,” to go beyond traditional expectations. He had them “speak up” by taking out their cellphones and, using the new, interactive advocacy initiative NRPA introduced to help save the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), texting PARKS to 52886. On a map of the United States, visible on large screens, attendees could see, in real time, how they were literally “showing up” across the country. He thanked NRPA President and CEO Barbara Tulipane, CAE, for being a “no-nonsense visionary and inspirational leader for NRPA.” Tulipane, whose leadership has helped elevate the level of awareness about parks and recreation’s impact on communities, recently announced her retirement after 10 years as CEO. Andrews then officially passed the mantle of leadership to the

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Keynote speakers, Peter Kageyama (left) and SaulPaul (right) share their views on the importance of parks and recreation.

2018–2019 NRPA Board Chair Jack Kardys, president of J. Kardys Strategies. Kardys recently retired as director of the nationally accredited and Gold Medal Award-winning Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces Department (MDPROS) and served as president of the Florida Recreation and Park Association (FPRA). He urged attendees to keep thinking big as they make the difference for health, happiness and prosperity in their communities and offered this quote from Chicago’s Daniel Burnham: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work.” In her remarks, Tulipane expounded on the top five things she has learned as NRPA’s CEO and president for the past 10 years: 1. Parks are one of the last places of tolerance and acceptance. 2. Parks and rec are the cure for isolation, loneliness and depression. 3. Parks are going to save our planet. 4. Parks and rec must embrace a spirit of innovation. 5. Parks are complicated and recreation programs are essential, and park professionals make it happen. She also announced the four recipients of NRPA’s new Best in Innovation Awards in park design, health and wellness, conservation and social equity, and the overall Best in In

novation Award winner, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation for its “Parks After Dark” program (to see a video visit innovation-awards). Tuesday’s keynote speaker, Peter Kageyama, is the author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places. Kageyama, also known as the “city love guy,” gave numerous examples of the

NRPA’s booth, sporting the “Celebrating America’s Backyard” theme, offered members an area where they could relax and interact with NRPA staff.

way cities can give their residents “loves notes” through small gestures that have oversized impacts (like the note tucked in with a bouquet of flowers instead of only the flowers) and make for livable, highly desirable places where people want to be. A senior fellow with the Alliance for Innovation and a national network of city leaders,

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CELEBRATING AMERICA’S BACKYARD Some members participate in a friendly basketball competition during the Opening Reception at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

dedicated to improving the practice of local government, he is passionate about “bottom-up community development and the people who are making change happen.” Wednesday’s keynote was truly an exercise in creativity. Attendees helped self-described “Musician with a Message,” SaulPaul, compose an improvisational song from words members of the audience called out — amazing, gratitude, positive, synergy, unstoppable and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, to name a few. An award-winning recording artist and founder of a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk and underprivileged youth discover and develop their artistic and entrepreneurial skills, SaulPaul spoke about civic responsibility and how you can make a difference in your own life and your world. 58 Parks & Recreation

Exploration The inspiration and enthusiasm generated by both Kageyama and SaulPaul keynotes was evident in the energy level on the exhibit hall floor. In this supersized playground, attendees could peruse and try out cutting-edge technology solutions and the latest in playground equipment, athletic gear, aquatics products and other services. They could also participate in interactive education sessions in the Learning Playground, try their luck at winning one of several daily prize drawings during exhibit hall hours and interact with staff in the NRPA booth. Connection In addition to the incredible breadth and depth of knowledge shared through the educational sessions, those who attend the conference

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know that the opportunities to network are “priceless.” When and where else can you interact and connect with so many of your colleagues from around the country, even the world. And there were numerous opportunities to connect, including impromptu conversations started in or following an education session; at the Student Pep Rally, where students had a chance to mingle with other future park and recreation professionals; during the Opening Reception, which was held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers; a round of golf at the Eagle Creek Golf Club or the adventure outing at Eagle Creek Park Treetop Adventure; and at the Best of the Best Awards Ceremony, celebrating those who either won an award, received a scholarship, or agencies that either gained or maintained their accreditation. Planning is underway for next year’s conference in Baltimore, Maryland. To submit a session proposal, visit als. To see the exhibit hall options, visit exhibitors. Registration for the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference will open on May 13, 2019. Start sharing the benefits with your supervisor now and mark your calendar for September 24–26, 2019. We look forward to seeing you there! Sonia Myrick is the Executive Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine ( Suzanne Nathan is NRPA’s Media Specialist (

A Welcoming Play Space for All By Sonia Myrick


ore than 30 kindergarten-through-third-grade students from Nashville’s Explore! Community School, and their chaperones, joined the crowd in the NRPA Exhibit Hall on Wednesday, September 26. They’d been told that here, they’d find the most current universal equipment and experience imaginative playgrounds — just what they needed to help them determine what equipment would best fit into their playground design. Explore!, a charter school with a project-based learning curriculum, is currently located in Nashville’s East End area but will be moving to a new campus, a few blocks southwest of its current location, in the 2019 – 2020 school year. A new playground is part of this new home, and the school community decided to use its design as a real-world experience through which the children learn about creating inclusive environments where people of all ages, backgrounds and interests can connect through play! “We decided to teach our students about ways that they could be responsible citizens and stand up to bullying in our community,” says Jessica Talbot, assistant principal, director of curriculum. “We approached the playground design unit with this lens because we want our Explorers to create a play space that is welcoming to all — and we want our larger Nashville community to know that we celebrate individuality as a strength and believe in the power of our collective diversity.” An Explore! parent, who regularly attends NRPA’s conference, shared information about the exhibit hall during a monthly staff/family project-based learning meeting. The group also learned that Dr. Scott Shafer from Texas A&M University, an Explore! consultant, would be attending conference. Three hundred students attend Explore! Those who got to travel to Indianapolis had to complete an application and present their ideas to their classmates, who made the final selection. Talbot describes the children’s enthusiasm and joy as “contagious.” They were very focused on experiencing the equipment and the vendors obliged, asking the Explorers to play on the equipment so others could see how it worked. “They [the children] were very impressed with the tall slides, the natural climbing structures, the musical instruments and the universal swings.” She adds: “Explorers talked a lot

about the musical features (very inclusive), the structures that allowed you to climb really high but were kind of soft so they felt less scared about falling, the sensory maze that used colors and textures to help kids with exceptionalities navigate the maze, and the really, really tall slides with steep angles that allowed you to go very fast.” While the children are continuing to visit local playgrounds, learning about the city council and interviewing a local representative to understand more about how parks and playgrounds are planned, the adults are working on getting a community assessment survey out through various channels. “Once we have our survey back, we will begin the first round of the design process. The Explorers will design in four categories: music, art, equipment and nature. They will complete four rounds of revision and will receive feedback from a local landscape architect group along the way. “Their final designs will be in a public exhibition, which will be set up to follow the structure of a design charrette. The school community will vote on these designs and then our project-based learning team will work to make the Explorers’ designs a reality! We are hoping our playground will be a place where our core values of curiosity, compassion, courage, craftsmanship and community can come to life. Most of all, they are hoping for a place of adventure with a really tall slide!” Some of the funds for the new playground were set aside from the new building construction. The school will need to fundraise for the remainder, but after seeing how organized and focused the Explorers were on the exhibit hall floor, that’s a challenge these students can more than rise to. — Sonia Myrick, Parks & Recreation Executive Editor

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CELEBRATING AMERICA’S BACKYARD And the Award Goes to… At the Best of the Best ceremony during the 2018 NRPA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, the following park and recreation professionals and agencies were formally recognized with awards for their outstanding work, which elevates our entire field. To see the 2018 Gold Medal Award recipients, visit To see a list of agencies that received CAPRA accreditation/ Spotlight Awards reaccreditation, visit To learn National Distinguished Professional Award more about award opportunities, visit Michael W. Klitzing

Robert M. Artz Advocate Award Nixon Adams

Park Champion of the Year The Park Champion of the Year Award recognizes an NRPA member who stepped up as a park and recreation advocate by inviting their members of Congress to see their parks and programs firsthand. This award is given to the Park Champion who best exemplified being a communicative partner with the NRPA Public Policy team and hosted a compelling event that clearly demonstrated to their members of Congress or their staff the importance of investing in local parks and recreation. This year’s recipient: Darren Lewis , Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, North Carolina

Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award Jeff Ozimek RWJF-NRPA Award for Health Equity Becky P. Tuttle Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research Andrew J. Mowen

Innovation Awards Innovation in Conservation Award Forest Preserves of Cook County – Conservation Corps Contact: Lydia Uhlir, Lydia.uhlir@ The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Conservation Corps is mobilizing people to help restore nature to health and train the next generation of conservation leaders and forest preserve advocates. The Conservation Corps provides paid, hands-on experiences to participants from across Cook County, including those with barriers to employment. Studies have shown that the conservation field in the United States suffers from a lack of racial diversity. To address this disparity, the Conservation Corps works to engage people of all backgrounds in pursuing careers in conservation and exposes many participants to nature-based recreation activities for the first time.

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Innovation in Health Award AND Best in Innovation Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation – Parks After Dark Program Contact: Terry Kanakri,

Parks After Dark (PAD) is an award-winning program that was launched at three Los Angeles County parks in 2010, as the prevention component of the county’s Gang Violence Reduction Initiative and was successfully expanded to 23 parks in 2017 and to 33 in 2018. PAD’s target population is communities with high rates of poverty, violence and obesity and systems-involved youth. Its goals are to decrease violence and increase social cohesion, physical activity, perceptions of safety, collaboration among stakeholders to offer services at parks, access to recreational programming and services, and cost savings for the county.

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Innovation in Park Design Award Town of Glastonbury – Glastonbury Riverfront Park Contact: Ray Purtell, ray.purtell@

Glastonbury Riverfront Park meets the diverse needs of the community and fulfills the vision created 30-plus years ago. The park facilities are the result of careful planning, successful partnerships, innovative approaches, supportive elected officials, dedicated professional staff and an engaged citizenry. The project was facilitated by seven separate land acquisitions, remediating an abandoned tank farm, partnerships with the state and local service organizations, $13M in public financing, and more than $450,000 in partner contributions. The facilities include boat launches, an 18,500-square-foot boathouse/ banquet facility, multipurpose trails, a children’s playground, lighted basketball court, athletic fields, outdoor skating area and a dog park.

Innovation in Social Equity Award Chicago Park District – Night Out in the Parks Contact: Peggy Stewart, peggy. Night Out in the Parks provides free accessible arts programming to citizens across Chicago. With more than 2,000 events and over 2,000 local artists employed, Chicagoans are using parks to create art and build community. The My Chi Parks mobile app provides instant access to every Night Out event across the city in more than 250 parks. Developed in 2012 to bring quality cultural programming to neighborhood parks, it continues to grow and to respond to the communities’ needs. Through Night Out in the Parks neighbors dance together, laugh together and sing together, proving that the arts are a catalyst for strong, safe communities.

YOUR IDEAS ARE WORTH SHARING Submit your education session proposals for the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.


Submit your session proposals by November 30, 2018 for the chance to win a free full-package registration to the conference.



For more information, visit or contact

NRPA Talks

Park Funding at Seattle Innovation Lab

Highlighting the political challenges associated with voter-backed P&R financing By Gina Mullins-Cohen

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ark and recreation professionals from around the country converged on Washington state for NRPA’s Seattle Innovation Lab, on August 10, 2018. The conference theme, “#Winning: The Art of Getting Voters to Open Their Wallets for Parks,” focused on best practices and valuable resource tools for securing dedicated funding for parks. What’s more, key thought leaders presented their firsthand accounts of how their park agency has navigated its way through the politics of voter-supported park and recreation funding. As an example, Seattle Parks and Recreation shared its own case study, which chronicled the passage of a special park district in 2014. The event kicked off on Wednesday evening with a welcome reception, providing attendees with an opportunity to meet and network with their colleagues. The educational sessions got underway the next morning at the Seattle Central Library. NRPA Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs Kevin O’Hara gave opening remarks before welcoming Christopher Williams, interim superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the first group of speakers.

Seattle Park District Case Study During the panel discussion, “The Seattle Parks Legacy – Passing Proposition 1,” Williams was joined by Thatcher Bailey, president and CEO, Seattle Parks Foundation, and Ken Bounds, former superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation. The panelists presented an overview of the Seattle Park District ballot measure and what it took to generate Seattle-voter approval. They also touched on the structural challenges facing the park and recreation agency during the early 2000s — such as working with slashed budgets as a result of a down economy; competing against the needs of police, fire and human services during down cycles; and managing increasing costs combined with decreasing tax revenues

and smaller budget allocation to parks and recreation. By the mid-2010s and after years of budget cuts, the park agency determined that the time was right to make a change. Seattle had just welcomed a newly elected mayor, while the Seattle Parks Foundation was laying the groundwork for a ballot measure and providing the organization with the capacity to campaign. Notably, elected leaders and park advocates alike emphasized the notion that this special park district creation would focus on maintaining the existing park and recreation infrastructure, rather than on a dramatic, shiny, new expansion or signature projects. The speakers also outlined the methods the city used to address community concerns. Some of the steps taken included the park department completing an 18-month Strategic Plan process to determine needs, establishing the first six-year spending plan, establishing a Community Oversight Committee and ensuring the current level of general fund support plus inflation. In addition, the city developed an interlocal agreement, ensured that all funds would go to Seattle Parks and Recreation, as well as agreed that the City Council serve as the Governing Board. On August 4, 2014, Seattle voters went to the polls and narrowly passed the ballot measure.

Win, Lose or Draw The best way to learn the ins and outs of politics, of course, is by example. In the session, “Win, Lose or Draw – Park and Rec Campaigns Across the Country,” panelists focused on successful and unsuccessful legislative initiatives. The discussion was led by Susan Trautman, CEO, Great Rivers Greenway; Wade Walcutt, director, Cincinnati Parks and Recreation; and Joe Brady, chief strategy officer, Metro Parks Tacoma (Washington).

While voters passed the ballot measure, Trautman admits the process wasn’t all smooth sailing. She and her team needed to address what she calls the “political issues, noise and timing. In April 2013, Great Rivers Greenway, a regional park district covering St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, Missouri, touted the success of Proposition P, the Arch-parks-trails sales tax initiative that passed in St. Louis City and County. “What [Prop P] did was it provided three things: it doubled Great Rivers Greenway’s income [about $9.4 million]; it made it the steward of the public’s funding for the CityArchRiver project; and it provided funding for local parks,” notes Susan Trautman of Great Rivers Greenway. “So, 40 percent of the funding [or approximately $12.5 million in the first year] went back to local parks in St. Louis City and County.” While voters passed the ballot measure, Trautman admits the process wasn’t all smooth sailing. She and her team needed to address

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what she calls the “political issues, noise and timing. And so, you’re always dealing with people who could be opposed,” says Trautman. One thing that she and her team encountered at the time was a St. Louis County official who proposed selling off approximately 20 St. Louis County parks — a prospect that had some community members up in arms. Fortunately, according to Trautman, some of the money from Proposition P helped to restore funding to St. Louis County parks and kept those 20 parks from being closed.

For park professionals planning to develop a tax initiative in their own community, Trautman stresses being clear, specific and transparent about how the funds will be utilized. For park professionals planning to develop a tax initiative in their own community, Trautman stresses being clear, specific and transparent about how the funds will be utilized. She also says your strategy should be driven by what’s happening around you — political issues, other people’s political issues and the timing of the election. Lastly, pay close attention to the voters’ needs. Trautman says: “Listening to people in a room, it always comes back to what you are using the money for and whether or not the people feel that’s an important priority for them.” Wade Walcutt with Cincinnati Parks and Recreation (where a recent ballot measure failed) — and Joe Brady with Metro Parks Tacoma (who has seen multiple successful measures) shared their agencies’ experiences, also emphasizing the 64 Parks & Recreation

importance of robust community engagement and public-sector planning to ensure voters know what they’ll be getting. Following the session, attendees headed to Lake Union Park for a working lunch that included a cruise from Lake Union Park to the downtown waterfront. The group then embarked on a walking tour of the Waterfront Park site en route to Port of Seattle’s Pier 69, the venue of the final session of the day.

Park Financing 101 In the session, “Park Financing 101,” J. Dee Frankfourth, associate national conservation strategies director for The Trust for Public Land (TPL), offered attendees best practices for agencies searching for new revenue streams for public funding. Frankfourth shared some key findings from 2016, which showed that out of 104 proposed ballot measures, 84 passed — generating more than $11 billion in funds for land conservation, parks and restoration. As for the November 8, 2016, election, there were 87 park-and-conservation ballot measures proposed in 21 states, with 70 earning voter approval and generating $6.9 billion in funds for conservation, parks and restoration. What’s more, TPL was involved in nearly half of all measures. Frankfourth then presented the key steps for developing a successful ballot measure, which includes (1) feasibility research, (2) public opinion survey, (3) program recommendations, (4) ballot language and (5) the campaign. Finally, the TPL executive shared the main ingredients for conservation funding: basic electoral support backed by elected leadership, a demonstrable need and/or risk, as well as a boots-on-the-ground coalition.

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Keynote Presentation On August 10, attendees gathered at the Washington Park Arboretum for a final day of education. Patrick Guerriero, founding partner of Civitas Public Affairs, delivered the keynote, titled “Key Components of a Successful Campaign.” His presentation focused on the top things to do and consider if you want to win a ballot initiative on parks. “Park initiatives — embraced by a majority of voters — are a great option for many communities to grow and transform a community’s green space, parks and quality of life,” says Guerriero. He adds that with the right mix of support from leading elected officials, strong grassroots community advocacy and a positive, professional campaign, a significant majority of ballot initiatives win on the ballot in cities and towns across the country (learn more about Patrick Guerriero on page 65).

Designing Your Funding Campaign The final event of the conference was an interactive workshop presented by Dr. Stephen Page, University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, titled “#Winning – Workshop and Competition: Designing Your Funding Campaign.” Attendees gained new insights into effective mapping of a political strategy. During the workshop, Dr. Page identified four main objectives: (1) analyze the politics of a situation, (2) identify strategic purpose, (3) map and utilize channels of political influence and communication, and (4) build support and reduce opposition to pursue your agenda. He also had attendees participate in a team exercise, challenging them to develop mapping assessments and deliverables.

Speaker Spotlight: Patrick Guerriero By Vitisia Paynich


eattle Innovation Lab keynote speaker Patrick Guerriero is no stranger to politics. Prior to becoming a founding partner of Civitas Public Affairs, he served two terms as Mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. It was during his tenure in office that Guerriero oversaw the reconstruction of the city’s infrastructure, as well as an upgrade of the city’s bond rating following a successful re-election bid. Prior to that, he served three terms as a Massachusetts state representative. Parks & Recreation magazine caught up with Guerriero to learn more about his long career in politics, his outlook on today’s political climate, along with valuable takeaways from his keynote, “Key Components of a Successful Campaign.”

Parks & Recreation: You’ve spent more than two decades in politics. How do you compare or contrast today’s political climate with your early beginnings in politics? Patrick Guerriero: When I had the privilege to serve as a Massachusetts state legislator and then Mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts, in the 1990s and early 2000s, most big policy challenges and opportunities were tackled by working across partisan lines and finding common ground. Today, we live in an uber-partisan and toxic political environment that makes it very difficult for the country and its national leaders to address many of the country’s biggest challenges. This is especially true in Washington, D.C. As a result of this, citizens are turning to local leaders in cities and towns all across the country to help make a tangible difference in people’s lives on issues like the environment, education and health. This is a great opportunity for mayors and other local-elected officials to lead the way on issues that impact the day-to-day lives of most Americans in a way that transcends partisanship. Working to ensure that every citizen has access to a quality park in his or her neighborhood is good policy and good politics, while also improving economic and health outcomes for residents. With Washington struggling to lead on major issues, this might actually lead to a generation of transformational leadership on the local level all across America.

P&R: What are some common misconceptions that park agencies have about crafting a campaign that engages voters and ultimately compels them to support park initiatives? Guerriero: The most common mistake made in crafting park initiatives is failing to understand that a park initiative campaign is actually

Ending on a High Note Throughout the three-day event, attendees acquired a wealth of knowledge from case studies, panel discussions and an interactive workshop — acquiring the key tools and strategies needed to develop their own ballot measure in their community. What’s

won or lost before the campaign launches publicly. Preparing for a winning campaign requires a feasibility study, smart testing of ballot language, public opinion survey, picking the right ballot timing and determining the most effective messages and messengers. All of that work should be done before a campaign is launched.

P&R: What are three important takeaways from your keynote presentation? Guerriero: First, voters aren’t dumb, so you shouldn’t try to fool your neighbors by being too fancy or too cute about what you are doing and how much it will cost the average taxpayer. Second, unconventional allies can sometimes be the best advocates for progressive park initiatives. Winning campaigns should reach beyond the predictable base of park advocates and find conservatives, business leaders, clergy groups and others who share a belief in the great value of quality parks. Third, many bold park initiatives have more opponents than you might imagine, so do opposition research before you launch your campaign so you are ready to counter the opposition. — Vitisia Paynich, Freelance Writer for Parks & Recreation magazine

more, they learned how to correspond community needs with funding sources, as well as how to design a campaign to meet those needs. However, it wasn’t all work and no play, some attendees ended their Innovation Lab experience with an optional hike of the Seattle Japa-

nese Garden before heading home. To download copies of the presentations, go to www. n r p a . o r g / e ve n t s / i n n ova t i o n -labs/innovation-labs-seattlewashington/. Gina Mullins-Cohen is NRPA’s Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Publications (

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NRPA UPDATE 10-Minute Walk Campaign Marks Its First Anniversary


ctober 10, 2018, marked the first year of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign. Over the past year, 220 mayors across the country have signed on to the bold vision that every person, in every neighborhood, in every city across America has a great park with in a 10-minute walk of home. The campaign celebration was a testament to the

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ongoing success of the movement and the local plans, policies and funding that’s taking shape. Highlights included Richmond, Virginia Mayor Stoney walking to a park with kids; Denver, Colorado Mayor Hancock announcing his support for adding a sales tax for dedicated park funding to the November ballot; Holland, Michigan Mayor DeBoer interviewing her

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parks and recreation director; Atlanta Mayor Bottoms signing on to the campaign; and Boston Mayor Walsh announcing that through decades of investments and planning, 100 percent of people living in Boston will have access to a park within a 10-minute walk. NRPA, along with The Trust for Public Land and Urban Land Institute, awarded close to $500,000 in grants, worked in-depth with cities and built a professional network through NRPA’s 10-Minute Walk Learning Series. This coming year, we will be more focused on supporting cities to create plans and policies and increase funding through an informed process that incorporates data, community, leadership and equity. Following are some opportunities in the coming year: • Technical assistance and planning grants for 10 additional cities • In-depth resources, including action-oriented park equity planning and community engagement • Professional networking and learning through the 10-Minute Walk Learning Series • Public-private park partnerships and collaborations with ULI members • Enhanced access to park planning tools, such as ParkServe, with new GIS data that is available for public download To learn more about the 10-Minute Walk Campaign and related grant opportunities, visit www.

Consider Joining the NRPA Board of Directors

T What’s Next for LWCF? By Kyle Simpson


ongress did not reauthorize the Land and Water Conversation Fund (LWCF) before the September 29 deadline, and the pressure is now on for it to act before adjourning at to the end of the calendar year. While the program has technically expired, Congress continues to fund it from existing money in the account from oil and gas leases. The House Natural Resources Committee passed a bipartisan compromise out of committee that would ensure 40 percent of the funding for the stateside account, while permanently reauthorizing the program. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee also passed a permanent reauthorization, with mandatory funding introduced by Senators Cantwell and Burr, out of committee. While it doesn’t lay out funding formulas like the House bill does, it is an exciting step forward to get LWCF permanently funded with mandatory funding.

So, what happens next? Members of Congress need to hear from you, now, about the importance of LWCF. It’s more important than ever that you reach out to your members of Congress, let them know the importance of the program in your community and ask them to reauthorize LWCF before leaving Washington, D.C., this year. Invite them to a park funded by LWCF, call their office or write them an email by texting PARKS to 52886. It’s pressure from advocates for parks, like you, that will get LWCF authorization across the finish line.

he NRPA Board of Directors is seeking individuals with experience in one or more of NRPA’s three Pillars: Health and Wellness, Conservation and Social Equity. Whether you’re an innovative park and recreation professional, public health official, community planner, conservationist, park advocate or an elected official who wants to help NRPA further its mission, consider joining the NRPA Board of Directors. NRPA is committed to having a diverse board — including by geography, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and ability level — to ensure that its leadership reflects the communities it serves. To apply, go to leadership, complete the application and return it to Lindsay G. Collins, board of directors liaison, at, no later than February 15, 2019.

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Remembering William Beckner, Jr.


RPA notes the passing this past July of a park and recreation stalwart, Bill Beckner. The breadth and depth of his career in parks and recreation is remarkable. Beckner began his career as a recreation specialist for the Air Force in 1966, worked as a ranger/naturalist for the National Park Service, became an interpretive program specialist for the Mississippi State Park Commission, was the director of Long Range Planning for the Oregon State Park system, and served as chief park naturalist and

then director of the Fairfax County Park Authority in Virginia. After leaving Fairfax County in 1993, Beckner formed his own consulting business, CEHP, where he provided planning and consulting services for park and recreation agencies at the local, state and national level. He spent almost six years at NRPA, from 2009 to 2015, as research director. Leon Younger, president of PROS Consulting, says, “Bill was an enormously strong practitioner who understood the value of parks and recreation and had the vision

and energy to implement complex plans. He was someone I admired very much.” Norman C. Merrifield, former director of Richmond, Virginia Parks and Recreation wrote about Bill, “Bill was as knowledgeable as any professional I ever met.” Beckner’s career spanned five decades of service in the cause of public parks and recreation.

Local Park and Recreation Agencies: Leading Providers of Out-of-School Time Programs Nationwide


RPA released a new report regarding out-ofschool time (OST) programs. The majority (84 percent) of local park and recreation agencies offer summer camps, more than half (55 percent) offer afterschool programming and more than a fifth (21 percent) offer before-school care. According to those surveyed, following are the top five benefits OST programs provide to their communities: • Offering a safe space to play • Providing a free or affordable space that encourages healthy, physically active lifestyles • Connecting youth to peers/social opportunities • Connecting youth to nature/out68 Parks & Recreation

door experiences • Providing educational support and supplementing learning opportunities OST programs also are a valuable respite to the most vulnerable children. Fifty-seven percent of park and recreation professionals report they have children participating in their OST programs who live in households facing significant financial challenges, such as unemployment (of a parent or caregiver), low household income

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and food insecurity. In the case of the latter, 1 in 6 survey respondents reported that there are youth participants who come to their programs hungry. In some cases, a meal provided at an OST program is the last meal a child will eat that day. The Out-of-School Time Report is a follow-up to a 2016 NRPA study that first explored how OST programs provide education, tutoring, mentoring and enrichment opportunities that improve the mental, physical and emotional health of our nation’s youth. Be sure to check out the December 2018 issue of Parks & Recreation, where the Research column will focus on a more in-depth look at the report. To read NRPA’s 2018 Out-of-School Time Report, visit www.

Green Infrastructure Training Opportunity


RPA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) are working to adapt the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP) curriculum for professionals responsible for the land management, maintenance and operations of municipal parks nationwide. Initiated under the leadership of WEF and DC Water, the NGICP is a national-level certification program aimed at creating a pool of credentialed field workers who possess the foundational knowledge to properly build, inspect and maintain green infrastructure stormwater practices

across the United States. In May 2019, NRPA, in partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, will host 2.5 days of NGICP training in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for park and affiliated professionals. This training will include a combination of online learning, classroom presentations, practice quizzes and field experiences, and will focus on green stormwater infrastructure construction, inspection and maintenance. It will also touch on building successful green stormwater infrastructure projects in parks that provide multiple benefits through community

Dogs in Parks Photo Contest Results


t’s no secret that dogs love parks just as much as people do, but when we asked readers and fans to submit photos of their furry best friend enjoying a park for our Dogs in Parks photo contest, we had no idea just how popular the contest would be. The more than 500 photos we received exceeded expectations and demonstrated the treasured roles dogs play in local park and recreation agencies. There were small dogs, big dogs, dog mascots, dogs with kids, dogs with seniors and even zoo dogs. The stories provided with the entries were even better, such as the dog that befriended a lion cub that was separated from its mother. What stood out throughout the entries was how important parks are to dogs and their owners, because there’s nothing better for a dog than a trip to the park where they can splash around, catch a ball, drag a big stick or simply roll around in the grass. Thank you to everyone who submitted photos to this year’s contest and congratulations to the winner and runners up!

engagement and partnerships. NRPA will award 25 applicants with scholarships to attend the training and take the certification exam. It will also cover all their meals and lodging for the training, and provide them with a $350 stipend for airfare and travel incidentals. The application process for scholarships opens November 1 and closes December 17, 2018. To learn more about the NGICP curriculum, go online to http:// To learn more about the NRPA scholarship eligibility and guidelines, visit www.nrpa. org/greeninfrastructure.

WINNER LEFT: (this issue’s cover image): Photo of Rory, taken by Sam Waldorf, Austin Parks and Recreation, Texas. RUNNERS-UP: (Below Left) Photo of Duke, taken by Dave Arpin in Millennium Plaza Parks, Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation, Oregon. (Below) Photo of Rose, taken by Jennifer Hermonson of Streamwood Park District, taken at Bartlett Park District, Illinois.

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Give the Gift of Certification — at a Discount!




Parks & Recreation

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The CPRP sets the national Aside from the monetary value standard for all park and recyour agency will receive, the B e r be nefi m e reation professionals who package discount encourwant to be at the forefront ages your team to apply, of their field. Professionstudy and test together als can also continue for the certification. The em demonstrating their dedmore candidates your b e r B e n e fit ication with the CPRE, setagency has, the larger the reting the standard for managerial, duction in cost. Study materials, administrative and executive park and such as the CPRP Study Guide, CPRP recreation professionals. Covering comPractice Exam and Management of Park munication, finance, human resources, and Recreation Agencies text are also inoperations and planning, the CPRE focluded at a discounted rate. You can cuses on practical knowledge and necesfind the Premier Agency Certification sary real-world skills for today’s park and Benefit package at recreation executive. fication/CPRP/how-to-apply/. By taking advantage of the Premier Not a Premier member? Visit www. Agency Certification Benefit, you are to learn showing your employees that you value more or contact Customer Service at them and your agency’s overall success.





NRPA Connect is the place to network with your fellow park and recreation professionals! Need a little inspiration? Visit https:// today and see what the latest hot topics are in your profession. It’s easy to join a variety of discussions: Use of CYA in a Commercial Pool – An NRPA member is struggling with high TDS in his pools and wants to know about using CYA in a commercial pool setting. One pool maintenance contractor suggests using a low level of CYA, which they say will lower the use of all other pool chemicals. Calling all AFOs for your feedback! Park Manager Job Description – A good job description can be the key to finding a qualified individual. So, what constitutes an effective job description for a park manager? Visit this conversation for shared examples of park manager job descriptions from around the country. Accurate Timekeeping by Site Staff – A fellow professional, who’s thinking about upgrading to a time clock system that also syncs with payment systems, wants to know what timekeeping process your agency uses for staff who work at sites and those who don’t sit at a computer all day? If you use a system for clocking in and clocking out, what system are you using? Chime in today! Marking Memorial Trees – How do fellow agencies mark memorial trees or other important trees in your community? Some members have tried bronze that then were dug up to be sold, plastic tags were broken off and some of the in-ground options cause problems with mowers. What are some of the creative ways you have used that have worked? Visit and let the networking begin! Need help accessing your profile? Contact us by email at or call 800.626.6772.

hinking about giving your staff a holiday gift? How about the gift of advancing their career and becoming a certified professional? With the NRPA Premier Package, you can provide your employees with the opportunity to earn the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) and/or the Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) at a discounted rate. The Premier Agency Certification Benefit allows Premier members to purchase group CPRP and CPRE exams and save up to $95 on applications by applying for a group discount.


Hot Topics

Member Spotlight: Cheryl Michelet By Vitisia Paynich


uring her college years, Cheryl Michelet worked at a local television station, a CBS affiliate in Kansas, as a receptionist, gradually moving up the career ladder into the newsroom. By her sophomore year of college, she had been promoted to news producer, but a job opportunity at another local television station, prompted her to relocate to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Michelet made a major career shift to public relations in August 2005. But, as fate would have it, her new PR job with the state of Louisiana began just two weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit the area — an experience she describes as “trial by fire.” Then in 2012, Michelet saw a job opening at BREC, the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge. She explains, “I was drawn to it because I felt like it was a place where I could make my community a better place to live, to work and to play.” Today, Michelet serves as BREC’s director of communications. Parks & Recreation magazine recently spoke with her to learn more about her role at the agency and the importance of social media in its messaging. Parks & Recreation: Tell us about your position with BREC. Cheryl Michelet: I operate the department of communications. We’re in charge of all aspects of communication for BREC, which includes public relations, marketing, advertising, even printing. We have publicity and marketing managers who handle all the different marketing accounts. So, we have 18 separate accounts, [including] the zoo, golf, recreation and

special facilities. Mine is the overall BREC account, so if we’re going to do any marketing or advertising of BREC as a whole, then my account handles that. We have graphic designers, a special event manager for the ribbon-cuttings and groundbreaking, a volunteer manager, and a social media and web manager. And, the easiest way to describe what we do is that we tell the stories that get people motivated to use our parks and facilities and to understand the value they add to our community. P&R: What is the most important aspect of your job? Michelet: We have more than 180 parks, and we have thousands of events and programs every year. Everywhere we go, somebody says, ‘I didn’t know that was a BREC facility’ or ‘I didn’t know you offered that service.’ So, to me, the most important and challenging aspect is to ensure the community is aware of all that BREC has to offer and then support our efforts through participation and approval of the tax funding that makes it possible. We have a very anti-tax climate in our community, so we have to show that we are serving all people equally and with excellence — or voters will decide we’re not a good investment of their dollars.

P&R: How important is social media to BREC’s overall messaging strategy? Michelet: Very important. When I first started, our main Facebook page only had 2,700 followers, and I thought that was crazy in a parish that has over 450,000 people. Every other year, we commission a statistically scientific survey to help guide us and find out how people want to hear about BREC and its offerings, and measure awareness. Every year that we’ve done that, social media has been at the top of how people want to receive information about BREC. So, we put a high emphasis on that, and we spend a lot of time and effort to create posts that are engaging to entice people to use our system. We have 18 Facebook pages, four Twitter pages, several Instagram pages and a Pinterest page. So, it’s a lot to manage and that means we rely on staff in every department to help post, but we do control access. And it also means we do a lot of training just to make sure they understand how important this is and they’re good at writing. They understand how to create an engaging post and how to create a high-quality photograph, because if the words are great but the picture is awful, then you’ve defeated your purpose. — Vitisia Paynich, Freelance Writer for Parks & Recreation magazine

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Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 This demographic places high importance on parks 7 Have a snack, e.g. 9 The R in ATRA 10 Formal title 12 Not a thing 13 National Park Service web address ending 15 Problem for ponds 17 Genre 18 Intelligence measurement 20 Happy and positive 24 Tranquil 25 Designer of parks 26 It’s more important than “diversity” 28 Cape ___, Mass. 29 Approval 30 It shows the way

Down 1 Oceanic 2 Relating to the nearby area 3 It might be solar 4 Indigenous, of plants 5 A while back 6 It laps a beach 8 ___ mater 11 Bringing back to former condition 14 Decide 15 Pet protection org. 16 Belts of rural land or parks surrounding a town or city 19 Pear-shaped fruits 21 Fairness socially 22 Plays the guitar, say 23 When the buds turn to flowers 27 Short sleep

Check the answers to the crossword at As an added bonus for completing the crossword, you can enter a drawing to receive a $25 gift card. The winner will be randomly selected November 30, 2018. 72

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Even though the conference is over, you can still watch 24 of the top sessions from the comfort of your home or office. You can choose from bundled sessions or pick the individual ones that fit your needs. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from top speakers without having to travel or empty your wallet.

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

PLAYGROUND MAINTENANCE COURSE What are some of the most prevalent playground hazards, and how can they be prevented? Where do the responsibilities of a playground owner start and end? The answers to these and other playground maintenance-related questions are covered in NRPA’s new Playground Maintenance Course, a one-day course designed for maintenance and recreation staff, university seniors and anyone responsible for a public playground. Course participants will also learn how to apply safe maintenance practices on playground equipment, surfacing and other site-related items, as well as methods of establishing proper record-keeping practices. A site visit to a local playground is included to provide participants with an opportunity for hands-on application of the information presented in the course. Already a playground maintenance expert? NRPA is looking for qualified instructors. Learn more about the course and the instructor qualifications at

JAN ’19 Parks & Recreation

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

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

August 25-30, 2019, Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, Illinois

September 24-26, 2019 Baltimore, Maryland


NOV North Kansas City, Missouri Statesville, North Carolina North Salt Lake, Utah San Angelo, Texas Tampa, Florida South Portland, Maine Bremerton, Washington Sacramento, California

3-5 5-7 5-7

Langhorne, Pennsylvania Albuquerque, New Mexico San Jose, California


Landover, Maryland


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

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6-8 6-8 7-9 14-16 14-16 14-16 27-29 27-29

November 4-8, 2018 Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, West Virginia

JAN ’19





1-2 3-4 6-7 8-9 15-16 19-20 27-28

Hollywood, Florida Glendale, Arizona Anderson, South Carolina San Diego, California Lakeland, Florida Austin, Texas Dallas, Texas

4-5 13-14 18-19

Prattville, Alabama Margate, Florida Sevierville, Tennessee

15-16 17-18

Manitou Springs, Colorado Camarillo, California

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OPERATIONS Achoo...Are You Ready for the Flu? By Katie Navarra 


ne hundred years ago the most severe flu season swept the globe. The 1918 influenza pandemic devastated entire communities. It took an estimated 675,000 American lives and more than 50 million people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).   

Thankfully, prevention and treatment protocols have significantly advanced since then, but the flu is still a virus that needs to be taken seriously. Last year, according to Kate Fowlie, a CDC press officer, 900,000 people suffering with the flu were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died from [it]. Those were only preliminary statistics. Official estimates were scheduled to be released after this issue went to press.   “These new estimates are record-breaking and emphasize the seriousness and severity of flu ill-

ness, as well as serve as a strong reminder of the importance of flu vaccination,” Fowlie says. In addition to infecting more people than previous years, the flu persisted at epidemic levels longer than any other season on record. Typically, peak flu season lasts four to six weeks. “Last year, it held steady at epidemic levels for almost 10 weeks,” says Andrew Pekosz, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.   The first and most important

thing anyone can do to protect themselves and others before flu season is to get a vaccine. The CDC and Pekosz emphasized the importance of encouraging employees and facility users to get vaccinated.  “There is a growing body of evidence that supports the fact that vaccination also reduces the risk of serious flu outcomes that can result in hospitalization and even death,” Fowlie adds.   A 2017 CDC study was the first of its kind to show that the flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, and by nearly two-thirds among healthy children.  Flu vaccines aren’t mandatory and it’s impossible to know if visitors or staff members have had one. To help limit the spread of the flu virus at your park and recreation facilities, Fowlie and Pekosz offer the following four tips any park or recreation center can use this flu season:  Install hand sanitizers near high-traffic areas.  At Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, hand sanitizers are close to places like an elevator button, door handles and other surfaces that are used often.  Sanitize work spaces and common areas.  Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu, including places that you touch often.  “It’s a good habit to get into wiping down widely used surface areas every few hours,” Pekosz




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suggests. “If you spent an hour thinking about all the things you touched in a day, you would be amazed at all that you come in contact with,” he adds.  At the end of the day, it’s a good idea for staff to wipe down desk surfaces, keyboards, telephones, etc. This helps to remove accumulated bacteria.  Signage. There are a variety of resources available for signage about good hand-washing, sneeze and cough hygiene. Hang those reminders in places where people must pay attention. The messages can range from the importance of getting the flu vaccine to handwashing and sneeze and cough etiquette.   “Put them right above a door handle or next to the elevator,” Pekosz explains. “Put them in a place that is within a person’s natural range of motion. That way, when they make a motion to do something, they will see it rather


than looking past a sign on the wall.” When multiple people come together, the risk of infection increases. Fowlie suggests placing flu prevention messages in areas where people congregate, such as welcome centers and gathering areas. In addition, messages about washing hands should be posted in or near bathrooms.  “We tell people to wash their hands, but then they grab a door knob with their hand,” Pekosz continues. “Encourage visitors to use the paper towel to open the door or have hand sanitizers available for use immediately after opening the door.”  Encourage sick employees and visitors to stay home. The CDC recommends a sick person stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. The key is that the fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. 


It’s impossible to predict exactly what this flu season will bring. It varies in severity, timing and length. “In our culture, no one will go home at the first sniffle, but if the person feels worn down, has aches and other symptoms associated with the flu, they should get rest and reduce the risk of spreading the flu,” Pekosz points out. It’s impossible to predict exactly what this flu season will bring. It varies in severity, timing and length. One thing’s for sure, it will arrive at some point this fall and last into winter. The CDC offers a website with resources (www. to support your efforts to limit the spread of the flu virus in your facility. Katie Navarra is a New York-based Freelance Writer (

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Offering Pet Care During Disasters By Suzanne Nathan


hen preparing for natural disasters, safety is the highest priority for any community. As many pet owners consider pets part of their family, it is important to educate residents on how best to care for pets before, during and after a disaster strikes.

Community Member Plans As park and recreation professionals, you are experts at planning. Encourage community members to create an emergency preparedness plan long before a potential disaster occurs. This should, of course, include plans for pets. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), preparedness plans should include how pets will be cared for and where they will go. Residents should keep the following items on hand: • At least five days of fresh water and pet food, as well as serving containers. • Pet medicines and medical records (proof of vaccinations may be needed). • Pet identification with owner name and contact information.


Parks & Recreation

• Necessary equipment — transport carrier, leash, thin cloth to cover small cage, etc.

Pet Shelters Evacuations can be stressful for animals, just as they are for humans. When it comes to pet shelters during emergencies, there is no “one-sizefits-all” solution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states many disaster evacuation centers cannot accept pets because of states’ health and safety regulations. “Pets kept at human evacuation centers can sometimes pose a risk of disease or injury to other shelter inhabitants. In fact, service animals that assist people with disabilities are currently the only animals allowed in some evacuation centers.” Some local agencies create pet friendly shelters in emergencies, such as Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department in Florida. However, space is limited, restrictions apply and proof of residency is required. Their website states, “The Pet Friendly Shelter is only available to Palm Beach County residents who reside in a mandatory evacuation zone, in a mobile home, or in sub-standard housing. All pets must be accompanied by only one owner who will stay inside the Pet Friendly Shelter. All other family members will need to stay at the adjacent human shelter. Pets will be housed in a separate area away from where peo-

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ple are sheltered; livestock and reptiles will not be accepted.” In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Debbie Almager, director of Bernalillo County Parks & Recreation, states, “As part of our Emergency Management Team, pet shelters are set up near human shelters but in separate quarters in close proximity. Pet shelters fall under EF 6, which our Animal Service Department sets up. Our Parks & Recreation Department also falls under EF 6 with our community centers set up for human shelters. We do have a policy in place and have mock trainings throughout the year in which we set both up.” To keep everyone safe, the CDC offers guidelines to help reduce risk of injury or disease if it is necessary to house pets in a public shelter. For more information, visit www.cdc. gov/disasters/animalspubevac.html. If your agency has considered or is considering developing a disaster facility for pets, check out The Humane Society of the United States’ Disaster Planning for Animal Facilities at Every disaster is different with its own specific challenges. Planning for emergency preparedness is key for agencies and residents. Have best practices on pet shelter policies you’d like to share? You can do so on NRPA Connect by logging in to and searching for the thread, “How does your center handle pets during disaster situations?” Suzanne Nathan is NRPA’s Media Specialist (

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Custom Benches Paris Site Furnishings manufactures custom benches to complement any décor or environment to boost awareness and branding. Precision laser cutting allows accurate reproduction of customer-supplied graphics, logos and other imagery for a unique solution. This is an ideal way to create seating that is as unique as the facility it is promoting, while enhancing name recognition. Available as one-off projects or in combination with other site furnishings, these unique amenities stand out in a cluttered market, making them ideal for recreational facilities and parks, schools, service organizations, municipalities, transit facilities, cityscapes/streetscapes and more. Paris Site Furnishings, 800.387.6318, WWW.PEML.COM

Oscillating Skid-Steer Mount SnowEx® introduced an Oscillating Skid-Steer Mount for its Heavy-Duty (HD) and SPEEDWING™ snowplows, contributing to better scraping performance and less wear on the plow’s cutting edge. The mount can quickly attach to any brand or style of skidsteer loader. The new skid-steer mount provides six degrees of side-to-side oscillation, which allows the blade to follow the contours of the pavement for a cleaner scrape. The oscillating mount works with both SnowEx HD straight-blade plows — with blade widths ranging from 7 ft., 6 in. to 9 ft. — and the SPEEDWING, which boasts the added productivity and efficiency of automatically adjusting mechanical wings. A total of five SnowEx snowplow models are compatible with skid-steer loaders, allowing users to leverage their machine’s onboard hydraulic system for efficient plowing applications. SnowEx, 248,586.3500, WWW.SNOWEXPRODUCTS.COM

Lightning Warning System Meteorological equipment specialists, Biral, recently announced the launch of its new BTD-200 self-contained, standalone lightning warning system. The system gives advanced warning of overhead lightning risk, using its professional-grade detection system, which is designed for leisure, sports and outdoor pursuits. This includes golf courses, team sports, university and school sports facilities, sports stadiums, outdoor leisure, theme parks and concert venues. It reliably detects the local presence of all forms of lightning out to a range of 35 km (22 miles) from the sensor. Designed to be installed and set up by non-technical staff, it comes with a power supply and the essential PC application “Lightning Works,” for monitoring and warning personnel of approaching thunderstorms. Biral, 44.1275.847787, WWW.BIRAL.COM 80 Parks & Recreation

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United States Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Publication Title: National Parks & Recreation Assoc/Parks & Recreation Publication Number: 422240 Filing Date: October 2018 Issue Frequency: Monthly Number of Issues Published Annually: 12 Annual Subscription Price: $30.00 for members; $36.00 for nonmembers Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (not printer): National Recreation

and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501

Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Offices for Publisher (not printer):

National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 Full Name and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: > PUBLISHER—Gina Cohen, National Recreation and Park Association,

22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 > EDITOR—Sonia Myrick, National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 Owner: National Recreation and Park Association 22377 Belmont Ridge Road, Ashburn, VA 20148-4501 Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Security Holders: None Tax Status: The purpose, function, and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during the preceding 12 months. Publication Title: Parks and Recreation Issue Date of Circulation Data Below: September 2018

15. Extent and Nature of Circulation

a. Total Number of Copies (Net press run) (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies) b. Paid Circula- (2) Mail In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s tion (By Mail proof copies, and exchange copies) and (3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mail Including Sales Through outside Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other the Mail) Paid Distribution outside USPS® (4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS (e.g. First-ClassMail®) c. Total Paid Distribution (Sum of 15b (1), (2), (3), and (4))

Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months

No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date

15,568 15,858

16,399 15,962









d. Free or (1) Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies includNominal ed on PS Form 3541 Rate (2) Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies Included on Distribu- PS Form 3541 tion (By Mail (3) Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies mailed at other classes through the USPS Leg. First-Class Mail and Outside Included on PS Form 3541 the (4) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail Mail) (Carriers or other means) e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (Sum of 15d (1), (2), (3), and (4)) f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e) g. Copies not Distributed (See instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3)) h. Total (Sum of 15f and 15g) i. Percent Paid (15c divided by 15f times 100) 16. Electronic Copy Circulation a. Paid Electronic Copies b. Total Paid Print Copies (Line 15c) + Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) c. Total Print Distribution (Line 15f) + Paid Electronic Copies (Lines 16a) d. Percent Paid (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c x100)











16,228 275

21,914 275

16,503 99.91%

22,189 74.83%

0 16,213

0 16,399





I certify that 50% of all my distributed copies (electronic and print) are paid above nominal price. 14. Issue Date of Circulation Data Below: September 2018 17. Publication of Statement Ownership. If the publication is a general publication, publication

of this statement is required. Will be printed in the November 23, 2018 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: Sonia Myrick, Executive Editor September, 2018 I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).

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Anchor Audio...................................................................................82

National IPA....................................................................................... 9

BCI Burke..........................................................................................83

National Sporting Goods Association....................................... 41


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Brigadoon Fitness..........................................................................81

Oglebay.............................................................................................. 31

Bright Idea Shops..........................................................................83 Cemrock............................................................................................ 27 Doggie Walk Bags, Inc. ................................................................82 Easi-Set Buildings.......................................................................... 84 Eco-Counter.....................................................................................83 ForeverLawn.................................................................................... 84 Gothic Arch Greenhouses............................................................ 84 Great American Business Products.......................................... 53

Play & Park Structures.................................................................C4 Pilot Rock/RJ Manufacturing...................................................... 37 RenoSys.............................................................................................15 SafeSoccer Goals............................................................................85 Salsbury Industries......................................................................... 9

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Amish Country Gazebos...............................................................82

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

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Victor Stanley ................................................................................ 23

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Landscape Structures, Inc. .......................................................... 5

Willoughby Industries..................................................................86

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

The Wood Carver Inc./Goldenteak.............................................86

(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 ©2018 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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Park Bench What should a zoo do with a lion cub that needs to be separated from his mother’s care for a couple of months while a wound heals? In February 2017, following the birth of Hondo, a lion cub at the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park (IFZ), his mother, Kimani, unintentionally gave him a puncture wound while carrying him. Her constant licking of the wound with her rough tongue caused it to worsen, so the IFZ staff treated the wound and removed Hondo from the lion pride so he could heal. But, the staff knew Hondo needed to continue to have comforting animal interaction, which is critical for the normal development of lion cubs. When they reached out to the Humane Society of the Upper Valley (HSUV), the HSUV staff knew they had the perfect candidate – Justice, a Great Pyrenees dog. Justice and her puppies were found in the desert west of Idaho Falls. She was not in good condition at the time, but she was taking great care of her litter, all of whom had since been adopted. Justice and Hondo were introduced at the zoo, which is part of the City of Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Department. It took 3–4 days for the two to warm up to each other, but once they did, Justice became Hondo’s surrogate mother, caring for him, teaching him social etiquette, important play skills and how to behave like a carnivore. After eight weeks together, Hondo’s wound healed, and he was ready to be reunited with his mother. The reintroduction was successful, thanks in large part to the social development Hondo acquired while with Justice. Hondo is now 320 pounds and thriving in his pride at IFZ. As for Justice, the staff fell in love with her, as do visitors who meet her. “Justice is now an animal ambassador of the zoo and a welcoming presence,” says Sunny Katseanes, IFZ curator of education. “This may be the only zoo where patrons ask, ‘Where is your dog?’” she adds. During the off-season, Justice goes on school visits with IFZ staff as she continues to teach youth, this time humans. — Suzanne Nathan, NRPA’s Media Specialist

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Parks & Recreation Magazine November 2018  
Parks & Recreation Magazine November 2018