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Greening Without Gentrifying | The Gift of Parks | Social Determinants of Health

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contents december 2019 volume 54 | number 12 | www.parksandrecreation.org


34 Greening Without Gentrification Alessandro Rigolon and Jon Christensen

When parks are built in underserved neighborhoods, they may contribute to or accelerate gentrification. It has become clear that it is everyone’s job to worry about ensuring that parks are part of equitable community development, so that people who most need the benefits of parks are able to stay in their communities and enjoy those benefits. Learn about recommendations for greening marginalized communities without displacing vulnerable residents. 4

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40 Adventure Parks: Breaking the Fear Factor Shannon D. Gordon, ASLA, PLA

In recent years, there has been a growing demand from the public for a safe way to recreate with perceived risks. Adventure parks provide individuals safe spaces to confront fears and build confidence by providing a controlled environment in which to experience risk. As play continues to evolve and these trends gain momentum, park and recreation agencies can capitalize on the demand by adding adventure parks or adventure elements to their systems.

Play never told me you can’t or don’t or you shouldn’t or you won’t. Play never said be careful! You’re not strong enough. You’re not big enough. You’re not brave enough. Play has always been an invitation. A celebration. A joyous manifestation. Of the cans and wills and what ifs and why nots. Play isn’t one thing. It’s everything. Anything. Play doesn’t care what a body can or cannot do. Because play lives inside us. All of us. Play begs of us: Learn together. Grow together. Be together. Know together. And as we grow older. As the world comes at us with you can’t or don’t or you shouldn’t or you won’t. We come back to what we know. That imagination will never fail us. That words will never hurt us. That play will always shape us.

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contents december




12 Research

10 Editor’s Letter

NRPA’s Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework Kevin Brady

14 Park Pulse

16 Member to Member Anatomy of a Great Fireworks Display John Prue

46 NRPA Update „„ Meet Me at the Park Surpasses Goal 46 „„ NRPA and American Water Partner on the Building Better Communities Program 49 „„ NRPA Awards Grant to Support Equitable Access to Parks 50 „„ Exhibitors Donate Materials After 2019 Conference 51 „„ NRPA Award Applications Open in January 52 „„ First Day Hikes 52 „„ Member Benefit: Protect Yourself — NRPA Insurance Discount Programs through K&K Insurance 53 „„ Connect Hot Topics 53 „„ Member Spotlight: Jende Smith, CPRP, AFO 54 „„ Professional Development Calendar 55

56 Operations Using Grant Funding for Your Aquatic Facility’s AOP Sanitation Tom Schaefer

58 Parks & Recreation Crossword 59 Products 60 Park Essentials 63 Advertiser Index 64 Park Bench Friendship Bench Lindsay Collins

Cover image: Photograph Courtesy of Ozmoy, LLC.

Parks & Recreation

The Importance of Conscious Design Gina Mullins-Cohen

20 Advocacy

Park and Rec Sponsored Holiday Events Celebrate People of All Cultures


Perspectives Innovation Requires Vision and Forethought Jack Kardys

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Federal Transportation Bill on Tap Margo Pedroso

22 Law Review Gender and Age Discrimination Claim in Park Promotion James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

28 Health & Wellness Keeping It Real: A Different Approach to Discussing the Social Determinants of Health Allison Colman

30 Conservation Can a Walk in the Park Put You in a Holiday Mood? Joshua Brown

32 Social Equity Community Engagement Best Practices Jennifer Fulcher

Page 20


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Innovation Requires Vision and Forethought “We cannot solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein Einstein’s quote still rings true, especially in parks and recreation. Case in point, North Miami, Florida, which recently announced plans to transform a vacant lot into a park designed to combat sea rise. For seven years, this vacant property — where a single dwelling once stood on the northeast side of 114th Street — served as home to Mattie Mays, a retired 69-year-old. While Mays asserts that the area had been prone to floods for years, the last straw occurred in 2000 when a stormwater onslaught submerged her property in nearly 4 feet of water. As it turned out, her property was situated on the lowest part of the creek. The city of North Miami ultimately offered to purchase her property and demolish the structure as part of a program to relocate residents from areas susceptible to major flooding. Fast-forward two decades, and this abandoned halfacre property will now convert into a neighborhood park with a dual purpose: serve as a public gathering space and act as a protective barrier against future sea-level rise, which will help keep surrounding homes from flooding. This innovative park design by the Van Alen Institute features a retention pond to accommodate high-water capacity and is complemented by a path walkway and lush landscaping to absorb stormwater overflow. All across the United States, there are municipalities and park agencies that have myriad stories, illustrating how their innovative thinking helped to solve very real problems through parks, open space and recreation programming. To highlight these success stories, NRPA has recognized some of these park agencies through its 2019 Innovation Awards. This year, the team honored the following winners:


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Innovation in Health and Overall Best in Innovation – City of Port St. Lucie, Florida, which developed a non-contact, boxing-based fitness program for individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Innovation in Conservation – Metroparks Toledo, Ohio, which worked with state and federal agencies to restore a wetlands area that provides a high-quality habitat, water-quality improvement and public access by Lake Erie in an area where water quality has been an ongoing issue. Innovation in Social Equity – City of Santa Clarita, California, whereby city staff — with limited access to parks and facilities due to transportation, language, financial, safety and cultural barriers — worked with a local business to convert a vacant apartment complex into a mini-community center. Innovation in Park Design – Three Rivers Park District, Minnesota, which designed and constructed a nature-based 15-mile long regional trail through fully developed cities full of homes and businesses through complex planning efforts, as well as critical partnerships. Congratulations to all of the winners! You are a true inspiration to us all. Learn more about these agencies in our 2019 Innovation Guide, which accompanies this month’s issue of Parks & Recreation magazine. As park planners, we realize the decisions that we make cannot be based on what we believe community members should want. Instead, we need to bring our residents, community stakeholders and elected officials to the table to have a broader conversation to identify the wants, needs and problems that should be addressed collectively and thoughtfully. If we hope to problem-solve through innovation, we must begin with clear vision through the lens of community resilience.

JACK K ARDYS Chair, NRPA Board of Directors

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

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

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

Chair-Elect Michael Kelly Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois Treasurer Jesús Aguirre, CPRE

Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Herman Parker

Previously with BREC Dallas, Texas

Joshua Medeiros, CPRP, AFO City of Bristol Parks & Recreation Bristol, Connecticut

Secretary Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

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

Previously with BREC Dallas, Texas

Ian Proud

President and CEO Kristine Stratton National Recreation and Park Association Ashburn, Virginia

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Michael Abbaté, FASLA Abbaté Designs Portland, Oregon

Jesús Aguirre, CPRE Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle, Washington

Hayden Brooks American Realty Corporation Austin, Texas

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

Kevin Coyle

Playworld Systems Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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

Xavier D. Urrutia Alamo Colleges District San Antonio, Texas

Greg A. Weitzel, CPRP City of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation Las Vegas, Nevada

Philip Wu, M.D. Formerly of Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region Portland, Oregon

LIFE TRUSTEES Lexington, South Carolina

Anne S. Close

Jose Felix Diaz

James H. Evans

Ballard Partners Miami, Florida

New York, New York

Victor Dover

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Rosemary Hall Evans

Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning Miami, Florida

Earl T. Groves

Richard Gulley

Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D.

Jack Kardys J. Kardys Strategies Miami, Florida

Gastonia, North Carolina Richmond, Virginia

Harry G. Haskell, Jr. Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Kathryn A. Porter Mendham, New Jersey

Michael Kelly

Perry J. Segura

Chicago Park District Chicago, Illinois

New Iberia, Louisiana

R. Dean Tice

Karen Bates Kress

Round Hill, Virginia

Park Advocate Emigrant, Montana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

NRPA’s 2020 Premier Member Calendar Out Now!

Beverly D. Chrisman

National Wildlife Federation Reston, Virginia

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

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Eugene A. Young, CPRP

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The Importance of Conscious Design We’ve all been there. You have a great idea that transforms a problem into a solution, only to realize upon presentation, you hadn’t considered one fatal flaw. Sometimes, it’s not until you’ve implemented your idea that the unintended consequences come to light. If we were to identify one tragic flaw of park design and development, we might argue that it would be the exclusion of community input. This lack of communication can be especially damaging in underserved areas, leading to results that ultimately harm the very communities we set out to help. One of the most cited examples is New York City’s High Line, which began as an innovative design project to transform an abandoned railroad into a public space for residents of the Chelsea neighborhood, but resulted in an influx of tourists and designer high-rises that overran the population for which the project was intended. In an interview with Citylab (https://tinyurl.com/y4pxpqu7), the park’s cofounder, Robert Hammond, says, “Instead of asking what the design should look like, I wish we’d asked, ‘What can we do for you?’” The feature story, on page 34, “Greening Without Gentrification,” by contributors Alessandro Rigolon and Jon Christensen, offers recommendations on ways in which park agencies can work with residents, developers, nonprofits and other stakeholders to “green” marginalized communities to provide benefits to the people who need them most, without displacing them. “It has become clear that it is everyone’s job to worry about ensuring that parks are part of equitable community development,” the contributors say, “so that the people who most need the benefits of parks are able to stay in their communities and enjoy those benefits.” The feature, “Adventure Parks: Breaking the Fear Factor,” beginning on page 40, by author Shannon D. Gordon, ASLA, PLA, talks about why introducing risk into play is important, and how park and recreation departments can create controlled environments for risk-taking to provide cognitive and developmental benefits. “The lack of risk in the play environment could lead to children who are ‘risk-averse,’ never having learned how to effectively manage everyday situations…” says Gordon. “Mental health professionals also agree the lack of risk in play can lead to a lack of resilience.” Whether it is greening cities to provide physical, mental and economic benefits to residents, or designing park amenities that provide greater developmental benefits, one thing is clear: We must be intentional in the design and development process and ask for input from those individuals we are building for. Behind beautiful and fun creations are the people who use them. At the core of our process should always be the questions, “Who is this for?” and “How am I helping?” Only when we practice conscious design can we truly innovate to advance and strengthen communities.

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

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PRESIDENT AND CEO Kristine Stratton VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLISHING, AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Gina Mullins-Cohen gcohen@nrpa.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lindsay Collins lcollins@nrpa.org EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTOR Suzanne Nathan snathan@nrpa.org PUBLICATION DESIGN Kim Mabon/Creative By Design CreativeByDesign.net SENIOR SALES MANAGER EASTERN REGION AND EUROPE Kip Ongstad 703.858.2174 kongstad@nrpa.org SENIOR SALES MANAGER WESTERN REGION AND ASIA Michelle Dellner 949.248.1057 mdellner@nrpa.org SALES COORDINATOR Meghan Fredriksen 703.858.2190 mfredriksen@nrpa.org PHOTOGRAPHY Dreamstime.com or NRPA (unless otherwise noted) MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS Anthony-Paul Diaz, Chair Michael Abbaté, FASLA Neelay Bhatt Ryan Eaker Beau Fieldsend Robert García Kathleen Gibi Paul Gilbert, CPRP Tim Herd, CPRE Brian Johnson, CPSI Denise Johnson-Caldwell Roslyn Johnson, CPRP Michele Lemons Sam Mendelsohn Maria Nardi Lisa Paradis, CPRP Paula Sliefert Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO Anne-Marie Spencer Stephen Springs

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RESEARCH NRPA’s Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework By Kevin Brady


ark and recreation departments have the power to improve community resilience through their vast network of parks and open space. To further these efforts, in 2015, NRPA launched the Great Urban Parks Campaign, which promotes the use of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to reduce flooding in local parks, while also making many other positive benefits to their communities. NRPA also created the Green Infrastructure in Parks resource to help park and recreation professionals implement GSI in their park systems. What was missing was how to measure the impact of that work. Specifically, how does green infrastructure affect not only the natural environment of communities, but also the health and even local economy surrounding the GSI? NRPA’s Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework (www.


nrpa.org/gi-framework) does just that. This online resource gives park professionals the tools and information they need to evaluate the community benefits of their GSI projects in parks over the short and long term. Clicking through three easy steps of defining your project goals, collecting data and using




• Water: Reductions in flooding; enhanced water quality • Air: Improved air quality and reduced temperatures • Habitat: Restored and/or expanded green space; flourishing of native plants and pollinators and removal of invasives


• Physical health: Better access to exercise opportunities • Mental health: Reductions in stress through enhanced exposure to green space


• Public safety: Decrease in criminal activity in restored areas • Social cohesion: Enhanced social connections among park users • Community engagement: Residents’ involvement in the project process and overall engagement with the park department


• Workforce development: Job training and skills development for local residents involved in project construction • Economic development: Increased local business activity and property/rental values

Parks & Recreation

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that data for messaging your results, the framework will give you a detailed measurement plan and an approach for how to use the data.

A Look Inside the Framework The framework makes data collection on the ground easy and practical through three key steps, each with text, downloadable tools and other resources. Step 1: Define your benefits and measures. This first step clarifies the benefits a GSI project may bring to a park and the surrounding community, and what your agency should focus on measuring over time. Beyond the flood-reduction benefits of green stormwater infrastructure, GSI can also produce many other results, as illustrated in the chart on the left. Step 1 provides an overview of how GSI and green space in parks produce the previously mentioned benefits. Your agency will have the information needed to determine what a GSI project may accomplish, and where your agency would like to focus your measurement. For example, if a GSI project involves replacing the cracking, gray surface under a playground with permeable pavement, you not only want to measure reductions in stormwater runoff near the playground, but also whether children and families are using the playground more often over time.

Step 2: Collect your data. Once you have decided what to measure, Step 2 then outlines how to collect data on the ground. If your agency’s project focuses on increasing usage of a playground or walking trail, how will you know if you have succeeded? What measurement methods will you use to capture results over the next six months and beyond? You will walk away from this step being able to develop a detailed measurement plan that shows you how and when to collect data. Receiving direct community feedback is critical for any GSI project. As a result, Step 2 also gives you practical tips on surveying community members about the impact of your agency’s project and a one-page survey that you can customize to your agency’s project. Finally, you will learn about different evaluation models that you can choose based on your agency’s staff capacity, time and budget limitations. Step 3: Use your data. One of the most common issues that we hear about from park and recreation professionals is what to do with the data your agency collects. Reporting on results can take both time and resources away from other critical activities, making it hard to fit in with other agency priorities. Step 3 will help you explore how to harness GSI benefits data to improve future projects. You will gain practical tips on how to hold brief, productive performance conversations, and how to address successes and weaknesses with current projects. Communicating the many benefits of GSI projects builds support

for your agency and its work. Step 3 also explores how to broadcast your agency’s successes to the public and other key audiences. Learn best practices from other park organizations on how they have gotten the word out about their achievements.

How to Start Measuring Results Measuring and communicating the many benefits of GSI projects will build public and elected support for green infrastructure and can contribute to future funding for this key conservation practice. The Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework can help your agency make this happen. Further, though intended for measuring the benefits of GSI,

your agency can adapt the framework to measure and communicate the conservation, health, social and economic impacts of many other projects, including pollinator habitats, green-space additions or even playground renovations. You can start today by downloading the Green Infrastructure Evaluation Framework worksheets and other measurement tools at www. nrpa.org/gi-framework. Like any toolkit, this framework will evolve over time, and NRPA is looking to you to use this resource and let us know how we can improve it. So, please share your comments and questions with me. I look forward to hearing from you. Kevin Brady is NRPA’s Senior Evaluation Manager (kbrady@nrpa.org).

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Park and Rec Sponsored Holiday Events Celebrate People of All Cultures

4 IN5

adults want their communities to hold cultural events and celebrations during the holidays that everyone can enjoy.

These events, which are typically hosted by local parks and recreation, include Diwali festivals, Menorah lightings, Winter Solstice carnivals, Christmas markets, Chinese New Year celebrations and others.

Cultural events can be inclusive and fun for all. Two-thirds of parents and millennials say it’s “extremely” or “very important” to host these events in their community.

Each month, through a poll of 1,000 U.S. residents 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. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com).

Visit nrpa.org/park-pulse for more information.



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MEMBER TO MEMBER Anatomy of a Great Fireworks Display How to get the biggest bang for your P&R buck By John Prue


hen you say “fireworks,” it usually excites people or triggers some form of positive reaction. The Chinese developed them more than 1,000 years ago to “ward off ” evil spirits, but fireworks have been commonly used as a form of celebration around the world since about the 13th century. Today, they are a big part of many community events, such as Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations, as well as seasonal festivals. No matter their age, race or economic status, most people love to gather around to see a great fireworks display! trol of their fireworks displays to ensure an impactful and successful event for their community. Do Your Homework Some understanding about the science behind and the types of fireworks that exist is necessary when seeking out a quality fireworks display and the right vendor. Fireworks are made from oxidizing, reducing and coloring agents, along with binders (starchy materials that hold the


As park and recreation professionals, at some point in our career, we will be involved in events that include fireworks. Typically, these events are your largest attended activity of the year. In many cases, agencies secure a budget for the fireworks, follow procurement processes and then award the contract to a fireworks vendor to produce the entire show — often with limited guidance to the vendor. Agencies, however, should take full con-


Parks & Recreation

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various agents together) and regulators (chemicals that speed up or slow down the reaction). These items mixed together create the basic firework, and adding certain chemical compounds will result in specific colors. For instance, calcium chloride combined with calcium sulfate generate an orange color. In addition, “buyers” should also understand the variety of firework shapes that will greatly affect the end-product within a fireworks display. Some of the popular fireworks shapes, after they burst in the air, are the Peony, Crossette, Chrysanthemum and Comet, just to name a few. All of them have a very distinctive look and will be the basis of any proposal you receive from a pyrotechnics company. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) has great resources that can help you better understand the technical side of fireworks. To complete your homework, you must explore the professional pyrotechnic companies that can support your needs. Search for companies that have strong industry credentials, have produced a variety of displays and have a long list of experienced and qualified staff. There are too many variables in fireworks displays, and you need pyrotechnic companies with a solid résumé of experience to ensure the best source. Request for Proposal (RFP) Once you have the basic understanding and several qualified sources, you will need a solid RFP that dictates your requirements


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and expectations. Be descriptive about what you are looking for in terms of the date and event. Also, be specific about the location and other parameters that might impact the size of the shells used or how they will be fired. Some questions to ponder: Is it a traditional aerial show? Will it be electronically fired? Will it be choreographed and set to music? What is the budget? Yes, the typical way to bid a fireworks display is to declare your budget upfront. Your budget will drive the length of the show, and that is where agencies sometimes make mistakes. They may not have the budget for a 30-minute display, but they demand it as a part of the RFP. A budget metric we have used is $1,500 per minute. Another key to your RFP is to have clear evaluation factors laid out. Since you declared your budget, you will be evaluating the proposals for the best value. In addition to the size and number of shells, company reputation and experience are all key factors in getting the 18

Parks & Recreation

best value for the money. Too many agencies rely on the sheer number of shells with little regard to types and size. This can be very deceiving unless you are familiar with the production of fireworks. Bottom line, a good RFP will help you generate a good pyrotechnics partner. Customization Once you have your vendor, you have the ability to work within their proposal and customize your own fireworks display (show). Typically, a fireworks show has at least three parts: opener, middle segment and closing or finale. Fireworks vendors allow you to move shells around to highlight certain portions of your display. An example would be to craft in a “false finale,” which is basically a portion of the show where you want the audience to believe it is the end of the show, but, in fact, you’re coming back with something even bigger and better. When using displays choreographed to music, various songs can lend themselves to these “false

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finales.” Work with your vendor and choose the songs yourself. Do not simply approve the song list they provide. This is a good way to take ownership of your show and help to control tempo, pace and, ultimately, your audience’s response. As previously mentioned, the length of the show is always a concern, and you have the ability to stretch the show using certain techniques. For example, in displays choreographed to music, dramatic pauses based on the song, can help create anticipation. In past displays at the Naval Station Great Lakes, we have regularly played segments of particular songs without any fireworks going off to create that dramatic effect. More importantly, if used correctly, this technique allows you to use more “shells” at different times for a stronger impact. Another way to lengthen the show is by using selected narration throughout. Narration allows you to set the tone or theme, get messages out to the audience, and most importantly, send kudos to your agency and corporate sponsors, who might have helped pay for the event. Using these methods could easily add up to five minutes to any show. Finale The goal when managing the oversight of a fireworks display is to be knowledgeable of the entire process. This can be a true mystery to many of us in the park and recreation field. However, with that acquired knowledge and the ability to take control of your own show, you are on the road to a great fireworks display! John Prue is Installation Program Director at Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR), Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois (john. prue@navy.mil).

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Federal Transportation Bill on Tap Congress can help create safe routes to parks By Margo Pedroso


arks are an ideal place for kids and adults to get physical activity, but only if they can safely get to the park. Even when a park is nearby, the street infrastructure around the park — such as the speed and volume of traffic and whether or not there are sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes — determines whether people feel comfortable walking, biking or rolling to the park. When there is not safe access to a park, people are less likely to visit regularly and get their minutes of physical activity. Parks across the country are partnering with their local government agencies to prioritize active transportation projects that will create sidewalks, paths and crossings that connect parks to neighborhoods and key destinations. However, these types of improvements can be costly, and communities need more funding to create more safe routes to parks.

20 Parks & Recreation

Congress Scrutinizes Transportation Every five years or so, Congress considers changes to federal transportation laws that can make or break these types of active transportation improvements. Traditionally, transportation is very focused on funding roads and bridges, with a much smaller amount reserved for transit, biking and walking. The current transportation law, called

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the FAST Act, expires in September 2020, so Congress has already started work to examine federal transportation programs and funding levels to identify changes. The Safe Routes Partnership is working with partners, like NRPA, to push Congress to direct more funding to active transportation projects. While there are many different pieces of legislation we are supporting, our top two priorities are as follows: Helping Local Governments Build More Active Transportation Routes The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) provides competitive awards to communities large and small for biking, walking and rolling improvements. Our recommendations for improving TAP are outlined in S. 1098, the Transportation Alter-

natives Enhancements Act. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) head this bill. The legislation proposes increasing funding for TAP by 40 percent, allocating more of the funding for rural areas and big cities, and providing technical assistance to help local governments apply for TAP awards and get their projects built more quickly. Making Active Transportation Safer Travel has become more dangerous for people who walk, bike and roll, and fatality rates are at their highest since 1990. Yet, state departments of transportation spend a tiny fraction of their transportation safety dollars on making active transportation safer. H.R. 3040, the SAFE Streets Act, would ensure that local governments with above-average active transportation safety risks would be able to access transportation safety funding

to put in sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, lighting, traffic calming and other proven safety improvements.

Congress Has a Ways to Go In July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S. 2302, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 (ATIA). We are pleased with the attention ATIA gives to active transportation. The bill includes $2 billion more in funding for TAP over five years, plus nearly all our recommendations to make the program even more accessible to local governments. It also includes a new program created by Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) that would potentially direct $200 million more to active transportation safety projects. While ATIA still needs to make its way through three other Senate committees before it can be

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considered by the full Senate, the active transportation provisions are very strong. The U.S. House of Representatives has been holding hearings and listening to recommendations from members of Congress and constituents, and we anticipate seeing their transportation legislation early next year. We hope the House transportation bill will build on the Senate’s and include even stronger provisions for biking, walking and rolling. Congress has a long way to go and a lot of negotiations before we see a transportation bill become law. But, we are optimistic that the next transportation law will include significant strides forward, allowing communities across the country to create more safe routes to parks. Margo Pedroso is Deputy Director at Safe Routes Partnership (margo@saferoutespartnership.org).

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Parks & Recreation



Gender and Age Discrimination Claim in Park Promotion By James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.


n the case of Boger v. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110321 (ND. N.Y. 7/2/2019), Plaintiff Kathleen Boger was denied a promotion to the Park Manager 1 position at Verona Beach State Park by her employer New York State Parks. In so doing, Boger claimed “Defendant NYS Parks and its supervisory employees had discriminated against her on the basis of age and gender,” because “the position was offered to three younger and lessqualified males.” Accordingly, Boger alleged NYS Parks had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”).

Facts of the Case In 2015, Boger was a 49-year-old female employee of Defendant NYS Parks. She was first employed at NYS Parks from January 1998 to January 2005 as Park Worker 1/ Office Manager at Delta Lake State Park. From October 2005 to April 2006, Boger worked as Park Worker 1/Office Manager at Glimmerglass 22 Parks & Recreation

State Park. In April 2008, NYS Parks rehired her as Park Worker 3/ Office Manager at Harriman State Park. In December 2012, Boger received a promotion and worked as Park Supervisor 1 at Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. In October 2012, she transferred to James Baird State Park as Park Supervisor 1. In April and May of

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2015, NYS Parks notified Boger about the opening for the civil service position of Park Manager 1 at Verona Beach State Park. When a New York state agency had an opening for a civil service position, civil service rules provided an agency could seek candidates from (1) the “open-competitive list,” which includes any individual who took the applicable examination, and (2) the “transition list,” which includes any current employee of the agency. In addition, a “Rule of Three” established the candidate pool for the hiring of each civil service position. Under the Rule of Three, state agencies could only consider the individuals with the three highest test scores on the civil service examination.

Boger had taken the civil service examination for the Park Manager 1 position prior to 2008 and received a score of 85, making her eligible on both the open-competitive list and the transition list pursuant to the Rule of Three. The interview panel for the Park Manager 1 position at Verona Beach Park was comprised of three NYS Parks employees — two females: Joanne D. Mitchell (age 54) and Laura Tully (age 48); and one male: Joe Morisette (age 38). Mitchell was the Assistant Regional Director; Tully and Morisette each held park manager positions. The interview panel (Mitchell, Tully and Morisette) conducted interviews of candidates on the transition list on May 27 and 28, 2015. Boger did not interview on May 27 or May 28, 2015, due to a clerical error that had omitted her name from the transition list. Following the interviews, the panel’s first choice for the Park Manager 1 position was a 50-year-old female, who could not be appointed because her score on the civil service examination was not high enough. Boger later challenged the assertion by NYS Parks that the panel’s first choice for the position was an older female because there was “no contemporaneous of such preference.” On June 30, 2015, Boger contacted Mitchell to inquire as to why she had not been interviewed for the Park Manager 1 position. Mitchell then recognized that Boger had been omitted from the transition list and scheduled an interview for July 10, 2015. Following the July 10, 2015, interview, Tully, Mitchell and Morisette discussed Boger’s candidacy for the Park Manager 1 position. During this discussion, Tully told Mitchell and Morisette about an

incident while she was acting as Boger’s supervisor at Delta Lake State Park, where Boger used profanity and argued with a park patron. After Boger’s interview and the discussion with Tully and Morisette, Mitchell spoke with NYS Parks Regional Director Robert Hiltbrand, who was responsible for approving the candidate recommended by the interview panel. Mitchell told Hiltbrand that Boger’s interview went well, but Morisette and Tully had concerns about hiring Boger. Hiltbrand then called NYS Parks Employee David Barone on the phone, who recommended against hiring Boger. There was no written record of this conversation and Barone later testified that “the central purpose of his conversation with Hiltbrand concerned NYS

Parks machinery” and their discussion of Boger was “probably less than a minute” in length. On July 20, 2015, NYS Parks provided an updated list of candidates who could be interviewed for the Park Manager 1 position. Mitchell, Tully and Morisette conducted interviews of the additional candidates from this updated list on July 30, July 31, and August 5, 2015. The same set of interview questions was used for all applicants for the Park Manager 1 position. The Park Manager 1 position was first offered to Robert Galuski, who refused to accept the offer. From 2009 until the date of the interview, Galuski, age 32, was a plumber at the Capital Facilities Construction Crew of NYS Parks (“CFCC”). Prior to working at the CFCC, Galuski was employed by

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Parks & Recreation



Galuski Plumbing and Heating as a plumbing and HVAC contractor. The position was then offered to Brett Dunn, who also refused to accept the offer. From 1997 to 2005, Dunn worked at Lorenzo

NYS Parks had to “produce evidence which, taken as true, would permit the conclusion that there was a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse action.” State Historic Site as maintenance staff. From 2005 until his interview for the Park Manager 1 position, Dunn had worked as an electrician and locksmith at the CFCC. From the record, it appeared that neither Galuski nor Dunn had any park supervision experience. The third offer for the Park Manager 1 position was made to Hawley Carr, who accepted. Hawley Carr, age 39, had eight years of supervisory park supervision as Park Worker 3 at Long Point State Park. NYS Parks notified Boger in writing that she was not chosen for the Park Manager 1 position. Boger had minimal or no interaction with the panel prior to her interview and had not witnessed any of them making “discriminatory remarks nor engage in discriminatory behavior against women or people over the age of forty.”

Summary Judgment Standard In response to Boger’s claims of discrimination, NYS Parks brought a motion for summary judgment, which asserted there was “no evidence to support the conclusion that Plaintiff ’s age or gender played any role in Defendants’ hiring decision and that Plaintiff ’s claims should be dismissed in their entirety.” 24 Parks & Recreation

As noted by the federal district court: “Courts are cautious in granting summary judgment in employment discrimination cases where the employer’s intent is at issue, because direct evidence of an employer’s discriminatory intent is rare and must often be inferred from circumstantial evidence.” That being said, the federal court would still require a plaintiff to provide “more than conclusory allegations to resist a motion for summary judgment.” Accordingly, to avoid having summary judgment granted to NYS Parks, the court would require Boger to “offer some hard evidence,” showing her version of the events was “not wholly fanciful.”

Gender Discrimination As cited by the federal district court, Title VII “makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e—2(a)(1). To sufficiently allege an initial (i.e., prima facie) case of “discriminatory failure to promote” under Title VII, the court would require Boger to show the following: (1) she is a member of a protected class; (2) she applied and was qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants; (3) she was rejected for the position; and (4) the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants having plaintiff ’s qualifications. In this particular instance, NYS Parks contended that Boger had failed to allege sufficient facts to support her claim for a discriminatory failure to promote. According-

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ly, NYS Parks had to “produce evidence which, taken as true, would permit the conclusion that there was a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse action.” NYS Parks had claimed Boger’s “prior inappropriate interactions with park-patrons” established a non-discriminatory reason for the decision not to promote Boger. Boger’s former supervisor, Tully, testified that Morisette had encountered an NYS Parks Officer (Dapson) concerning an incident at Delta Lake State Park, where Boger used profanity toward a park patron and demanded the arrest of such patron. Since “customer service must be at the forefront of the Park Manager 1’s daily responsibilities,” the federal district court agreed with NYS Parks that this type of incident would constitute a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the decision not to hire Boger. The federal district court further noted that “hostility in the workplace was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for an adverse employment action.” NYS Parks also claimed a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for not hiring Boger was based on the recommendation by NYS Parks employee David Barone to Regional Director Robert Hiltbrand. The federal district court agreed that “negative recommendations or references may reasonably result in a candidate not receiving an offer of employment.”

Discrimination Pretext Having found NYS Parks had “articulated two legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the decision not to recommend Plaintiff for the Park Manager 1 position,” the court then considered whether “a reasonable jury could conclude that the nondiscriminatory reason offered by the

defendant is a pretext for discrimination.” To establish a pretext for discrimination, the court noted Boger would have to show an employment decision motivated by nondiscriminatory reasons also included at least one “prohibited factor.” That being said, the court acknowledged: “Conclusory and speculative allegations will not suffice to demonstrate discriminatory intent.” According to the federal district court, to defeat the pretrial motion for summary judgment, evidence of pretext could include “temporal proximity, together with other evidence such as inconsistent employer explanations.” In addition, the court found a pretext for discrimination “may also be shown by demonstrating weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsis-

tencies, or contradictions in the employer’s proffered legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for its action.” Further, the court found “an employer’s disregard or misjudgment of a plaintiff ’s job qualifications may undermine the credibility of an employer’s stated justification for an employment decision.” When a plaintiff seeks to prevent summary judgment based on the discrepancy in qualifications ignored by an employer, the plaintiff ’s credentials would have to be so superior to the credentials of the person selected for the job that no reasonable person, in the exercise of impartial judgment, could have chosen the candidate selected over the plaintiff for the job in question. In the opinion of the federal district court, the evidence in this par-

ticular case supported Boger’s contention that NYS Parks may have disregarded her credentials: It is evident that Plaintiff was qualified for the Park Manager 1 position given her roughly fifteen years of relevant employment at five NYS Parks, including supervisory experience and extensive safety training. Further, Defendant Mitchell testified at his deposition that Plaintiff was qualified for the position. Moreover, the federal district court noted the first two candidates who had declined the position, a plumber and an electrician, lacked any park supervisory experience. In contrast, the third candidate who accepted the position had “held a supervisory position as Park Worker 3 for eight years and prior to that worked as a Park and Recreation Aide 4.”

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Parks & Recreation



While Boger was better qualified than the first two candidates, the federal district court found the discrepancy in qualifications on its own did not provide conclusive evidence of pretext. That being said, the court noted this discrepancy could still be indicative of pretext: An employer’s explanation of its reasons must be clear and specific in order to afford the employ-

While Boger was better qualified than the first two candidates, the federal district court found the discrepancy in qualifications on its own did not provide conclusive evidence of pretext. ee a full and fair opportunity to demonstrate pretext. A subjective evaluation, besides being clear and specific, must also be honest... [E]mployers may use subjective criteria during the hiring process so long as those judgments are not made with discriminatory intent. In this particular instance, the court found the reasons NYS Parks had offered were “clear and specific” reasons for the decision not to hire Boger. On the other hand, the court noted Boger had raised “credibility issues with respect to the honesty of Defendants’ evaluation which may permit a reasonable trier-of-fact to find that Defendants’ reasons were pretext for discrimination.” According to the court, one of these clear and specific reasons for denying Boger the promotion was “an incident at Delta Lake State Park where Plaintiff used profane language towards a park patron.” The court noted, however, that this incident “took place about ten years before Plaintiff ’s interview.” 26 Parks & Recreation

Moreover, following Boger’s complaint to the EEOC, an email to fellow interview panel member Mitchell, Tully referred to this incident as “just one example of when I witnessed Kathy using vulgarity in the workplace.” While noting that Boger is generally pleasant to work with and performs her job well, Tully concluded that “it’s just when customers have complaints that I think she takes things personal and loses control.” However, in Tully’s deposition, she referred to the incident as a “singular isolated event” and described that “it was isolated, it was the only one” and she “had absolutely nothing else negative to say” about Boger. Further, when asked by Mitchell if Boger “deserved a shot,” Tully had said, “yeah.” Further, Mitchell had testified that Tully had suggested to Robert Hiltbrand that the alleged incident was “long ago,” and Boger’s candidacy should still be considered. Based on this contradictory pretrial evidence, the federal district court determined: “A reasonable trier of fact [i.e., jury] may find that Defendants’ first reason is unworthy of credence, considering it was characterized as a ‘singular isolated event,’ and occurred at least ten years prior to the hiring process.” In addition, Mitchell had further testified that the “deciding factor,” with respect to the hiring decision, was “the negative recommendation of David Barone made to Robert Hiltbrand.” David Barone, however, had stated that “the central purpose of his phone conversation with Hiltbrand concerned an issue with NYS Parks equipment” and the discussion of Boger’s candidacy lasted “probably less than a minute.” Moreover, Barone and Boger

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had “worked together at NYS Parks for approximately three weeks.” In the opinion of the federal district court, based on this pretrial evidence, a reasonable jury could find that “reliance on a recommendation that was less than one minute in length, from an individual who only worked with Plaintiff for such a short time a decade in the past may be unworthy of credence.” Given the “superiority” of Boger’s qualifications over the first two candidates offered the position, and “credibility issues” with the nondiscriminatory reasons offered by NYS Parks for not promoting Boger, the federal district court concluded the pretrial evidence would permit a reasonable jury to find “the nondiscriminatory reasons proffered by Defendants were pretext for discrimination.” Accordingly, the federal district court denied the motion for summary judgment by NYS Parks on Boger’s Title VII claim.

Age Discrimination As cited by the federal district court, the ADEA was created “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.” 29 U.S.C. § 621. It is unlawful under the ADEA “for an employer to “discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age,” 29 U.S.C. § 623. In order to proceed with a claim of age discrimination under the ADEA, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following: (1) she was in the protected age

group of forty years or older; (2) she was qualified for the position at issue; (3) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (4) the identified adverse action occurred under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. In this particular instance, the federal district court found Boger’s ADEA claim had satisfied the first three prongs of these requirements, because she was over 40 years of age, was qualified for Park Manager 1 position, and suffered an adverse action when she was denied promotion. According to the court, in satisfying the fourth prong and raise an inference of age discrimination, Boger could show the denied promotion was given to “a significantly younger person.” The court found Boger had met this requirement because the position was initially offered to candidates who were 17 and 10 years younger than Boger. Moreover, to succeed on her age discrimination claim under the ADEA, the court noted that Boger “must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that age was the ‘butfor’ cause of the challenged adverse employment ‘action’ and not just a contributing or motivating factor.” In other words, “but-for” her age, Boger would have been promoted to the Park Manager 1 position. Having determined Boger was “significantly better qualified” than the two younger candidates who were initially offered the position, the federal district court, once again, found “credibility issues exist with respect to the nondiscriminatory reasons” offered by NYS Parks for not promoting Boger. As a result, the federal district court denied the motion for summary judgment on Boger’s ADEA claim. Having denied the NYS Parks

motions for summary judgment, further trial proceedings would be conducted in which Boger would have an opportunity to prove her claims of gender and age discrimination before a jury.

James C. Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D., is an Attorney and Associate Professor in the School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism at George Mason University (jkozlows@gmu.edu). Webpage with link to law review articles archive (1982 to present): http:// mason.gmu.edu/~jkozlows.

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

Keeping It Real: A Different Approach to Discussing the Social Determinants of Health By Allison Colman


ver the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the language that we use in the public health sector. The language I speak of is filled with terminology, like “population-based health,” “vulnerable populations,” “socioeconomic characteristics,” or perhaps one of the most popular modern terms — “social determinants of health.” My thoughts have centered on two big questions: Is this terminology relatable to most people, or have we siloed ourselves in the public health field? And, does everyone understand “social determinants of health” and where parks and recreation has a role? After some reflection, introspection, a bit of noodling and several health team conversations, I came to the realization that (1) the language is not super relatable and this might be limiting our work, and (2) no, not everyone understands the social determinants of health and where the field of parks and recreation fits. While one of the goals of the public health field is to unite different stakeholders, sectors and people in the pursuit of improving community health outcomes, I think that our efforts to “talk the talk” can, sometimes, have the opposite effect.

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When we use terms and phrases that most people aren’t connected to, we might actually be pushing them away from joining our efforts and creating even larger impacts. In the spirit of acknowledging this newfound awareness, I’m going

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to attempt to drop the super sexy public health language, in this case, and try to keep it real as we take a different approach to discussing the “social determinants of health.”

Health Factors and Conditions The public health field has widely adopted the use of “social determinants of health” when we describe the different factors that can impact someone’s quality of life and longevity. In fact, I’ve probably said “social determinants of health” at least 20 times this week. But, what exactly are the social determinants of health and what role does parks and recreation play? Simply put, the social determinants of health are factors and conditions that can influence why

While often listed and described differently, examples of social determinants and underlying factors (as listed in the Healthy People 2020 framework (https://tinyurl.com/y74hajdr) include:

someone may be healthy and another person may not be. They can be divided up into social and physical determinants, as well as policies. These factors unfairly affect people living in low-income communities and people of color, reducing their quality of life and life expectancy by as much as 30 years. New research from the National Institute of Health Care Management Foundation (https://tinyurl.com/y37sbcwo) finds that determinants influence 50 percent of health outcomes; more than health behaviors (diet, physical activity, substance use, etc.), biology (genetics, inherited conditions, etc.) and clinical care. The research finds that people struggling with food insecurity are 2.4 times more likely to go the emergency room, people living in communities that have safety concerns are 3.2 times more likely to go to the emergency room and people without reliable transportation are 2.6 times more likely to go to the emergency room. Addressing these factors is critical to improving community health and ensuring that all people have a fair opportunity to live a healthy and long life. So, what role does parks and recreation play, and how can the field provide solutions to many of these challenges?

Neighborhood and Built Environment Perhaps most notably, parks and recreation has a significant role to play in shaping our neighborhoods and the built environment. Quality park and recreational spaces that are accessible, properly designed with community input and well-programmed have been shown to reduce area crime and violence. Parks and green space improve air, water and environmental conditions in communities. At

the same time, parks and recreation promotes access to physical activity opportunities for people to move more and provide access to healthy foods through meal programs, farmers markets and community gardens. Research demonstrates over and over again that people who live near and spend time in parks are more physically active, have improved mental and social health, are more productive and have improved focus.

Social and Community Context Parks and recreation has an exceptional ability to bring people together. In my nearly five years at NRPA, I’ve been on dozens of site visits. And while programs and facilities differ, there is one thing that is consistent across the field. Nearly every program participant I talk to tells me that the biggest benefit of parks and recreation is the socialization that it provides. They are public spaces and places, open and welcoming to all. They provide an opportunity for people from different walks of life to connect through shared experiences. They also provide an opportunity for civic engagement and participation. Parks and recreation is a driving force of social cohesion in all communities. While these are just a few examples of how parks and recreation can address the social determinants of health, the opportunities are endless. Local agencies across the country are tackling so many of these challenges — from establishing partnerships with healthcare providers, to referring patients to chronic disease interventions, providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment assistance at park and recreation sites, installing green stormwater infrastructure in parks to mitigate flooding and improve

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Economic stability Employment Food Insecurity Housing Instability Poverty Education Early Childhood Education and Development Enrollment in Higher Education High School Graduation Language and Literacy Social and Community Context Civic Participation Discrimination Incarceration Social Cohesion Health and Healthcare Access to Healthcare Access to Primary Care Health Literacy Neighborhood and Built Environment Access to Foods that Support Healthy Eating Patterns • Crime and Violence • Environmental Conditions • Quality of Housing

water quality, and by establishing policies that ensure these resources are being invested in the communities that need them most. As a public health professional, I, obviously, agree that there is a time and a place to talk the talk, but it’s also important to bring more people into this work to continue making progress. So, to relate to others outside of the public health sector, I challenge you to take time to connect with your colleagues, policymakers and the people you serve in your communities. Have a conversation about the work your agency is currently doing to improve neighborhoods. And, try to keep the public health language to a minimum. You never know who might hear something they connect with and join the fight. Allison Colman is NRPA’s Director of Health (acolman@nrpa.org).

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Can a Walk in the Park Put You in a Holiday Mood? Twitter study shows the greener the urban green space, the more cheerful people become By Joshua Brown


aving one of those days — grumpy and blue? Head for the biggest, greenest park you can find and take a walk under some trees. Why? A first-of-its-kind study by a team of scientists from the University of Vermont (UVM) shows that visitors to urban parks use happier words and express less negativity on Twitter than they did before their visit — and that their elevated mood lasts for up to four hours afterwards. The effect is so strong that the increase in happiness from a visit to an outpost of urban nature is equivalent to the mood spike on Christmas Day, by far the happiest day each year on Twitter. With more people living in cities, and growing rates of mood disorders, this research may have powerful implications for public health and urban planning. The new study, titled “Visitors to ur-

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ban greenspace have higher sentiment and lower negativity on Twitter” (https://tinyurl.com/y2nqb7gw), was published this summer in People and Nature, an open-access journal of the British Ecological Society.

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Green Impact For three months, the UVM team of scientists studied hundreds of tweets per day that people posted from 160 parks in San Francisco. “We found that, yes, across all the tweets, people are happier in parks,” says Aaron Schwartz, a UVM doctoral student who led the new research, “but the effect was stronger in large regional parks with extensive tree cover and vegetation.” Smaller neighborhood parks showed a smaller spike in positive mood and mostly paved civic plazas and squares showed the least mood elevation.

“In cities, big green spaces are very important for people’s sense of well-being,” says Schwartz. This means that efforts to protect and expand urban natural areas extend far beyond luxury and secondtier concerns. According to Taylor Ricketts, a co-author of the new study and director of the Gund Institute for Environment, “We’re seeing more and more evidence that it’s central to promoting mental health.” In recent years, “a big focus in conservation has been on monetary benefits — like how many dollars of flood damage did we avoid by restoring a wetland?” Ricketts says. “But this study is part of a new wave of research that expands beyond monetary benefits to quantify the direct health benefits of nature. What’s even more innovative here is our focus on mental health benefits — which have been really underappreciated and understudied.”

Measuring Happiness The hedonometer, an online instrument, has been gathering and analyzing billions of tweets for more than a decade. It was invented by a team of scientists at UVM and The MITRE Corporation, including Chris Danforth and Peter Dodds, professors at the Vermont Complex Systems Center and co-authors on the new study. The instrument uses a body of about 10,000 common words that have been scored by a large pool of volunteers for what the scientists call their “psychological valence,” a method for measuring each word’s emotional temperature. The words the volunteers perceived as the happiest ranked near

the top of a 1–9 scale; sad words near the bottom: “happy” ranked 8.30, “hahaha” 7.94 and “parks” 7.14. Truly neutral words, such as “and” and “the,” scored 5.22 and 4.98, respectively. At the bottom, “trapped” 3.08, “crash” 2.60 and “jail” 1.76. “Flowers” scored a pleasant 7.56. Using these scores, the team collects nearly 50 million tweets each day. “Then we, basically, toss the words into a huge bucket,” says Dodds, “and calculate the bucket’s average happiness score.”

Park Position

The Cause of Affect

To devise the new study, the scientists gathered tweets from 4,688 users whose locations were geotagged with latitude and longitude in the city of San Francisco. “Then, working with the U.S. Forest Service, we developed some new techniques for mapping vegetation of urban areas — at a very detailed resolution, about a thousand times more detailed than existing methods,” says Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, director of UVM’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory and a co-author of the new study. “That’s what really enabled us to get an accurate understanding of how the greenness and vegetation of these urban areas [relate] to people’s sentiment there.” “This is the first study that uses Twitter to examine how user sentiment changes before, during and after visits to different types of parks,” says Schwartz, whose work is supported by the National Science Foundation. “The greener parks show a bigger boost.” Overall, the tweets posted from these urban San Francisco parks were happier by a dramatic 0.23 points on the hedonometer scale over the baseline.

“While we don’t address causality in our study, we do find that negative language — like ‘not,’ ‘no,’ ‘don’t,’ ‘can’t’ — decreased in the period immediately after visits to urban parks,” says Danforth, “offering specific linguistic markers of the mood boost available outside.” Conversely, the study shows that the use of first-person pronouns — “I” and “me” — drops off dramatically in parks, perhaps indicating “a shift from individual to collective mental frame,” the scientists add. For centuries, thinkers have wondered about the sources of happiness, and, for decades, psychologists have studied how to promote it, but this new study supports one fundamental insight: In nature, people tend to be happier. “That’s a finding that may help public health officials and governments make plans and investments,” says researcher Aaron Schwartz — and help you feel good about heading for the park. Joshua Brown is a Science Writer whose work has appeared in the Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report and Conservation. He writes and teaches environmental journalism at the University of Vermont (joshua.brown@uvm.edu).

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Iowa City Parks and Recreation hosts input meetings, where staff and local government officials meet with community members to discuss projects in neighborhood parks.

Community Engagement Best Practices NRPA resources help agencies increase engagement, equity and inclusion By Jennifer Fulcher


ark and recreation spaces are a hub for all kinds of community interactions. So, it just makes sense that all people, no matter their differences, should be engaged in these spaces. NRPA provides the tools that park and recreation professionals need to implement equitable and inclusive community engagement that ensures fair and just decision-making power and that results in welcoming, culturally relevant park spaces that provide multiple benefits.

NRPA Hosts Community Engagement Training A group of 36 professionals gathered on September 23, 2019, to engage in a lively discussion about community engagement, inclusion and equity. NRPA hosted the educational training and brought in Holly Madill, director of the National Charrette Institute at Michigan State University, and Dionardo Pizaña, diversity, equity and inclusion specialist for Michigan State University, to lead 32 Parks & Recreation

the discussion. Read more about the workshop in the blog, “NRPA’s Community Engagement Training: Delving Into Equity and Inclusion” (www.nrpa.org/Community EngagementGuideBlog). The session built on a foundation of information and best practices described in NRPA’s Community Engagement Resource Guide: Creating Equitable Access to High-Performing Parks (www.nrpa.org/CommunityEngage mentGuide). This guide provides a

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roadmap to implementing community engagement strategies around the planning, design, construction, maintenance and activation of park projects and park plans. It specifically addresses barriers that could hinder the ability of park and recreation agencies to collaborate with community members. In addition to tips and best practices, the guide takes readers through the engagement process using the themes of internal assessment and planning, building trust with communities, community engagement strategies and evaluation.

Community Engagement and Equity Efforts in Los Angeles The training and the guide shared lessons learned from real-world experiences. Clement Lau, departmen-

tal facilities planner for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), attended the training and describes how his county’s Parks Needs Assessment is featured as a case study in the guide. “The guide is great, and I have shared it with my colleagues here,” he states. “This will help us as we develop formal community engagement policies for our department.” In 2012, DPR began working on plans that focus on six of the most park-poor areas in the county and made sure community engagement was a key part of the process. It started with a detailed data analysis and public input collection, which helped identify park needs and opportunities in each community. Building on the work of the community park plans, DPR then completed the Los Angeles Countywide Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment. This was the county’s first such comprehensive assessment, involving an extensive community engagement process, a broad-based coalition of partners and an equity-based approach to determine park needs. The Park Needs Assessment informed the development of a funding measure, which will help fund park projects across the county in perpetuity. DPR will continue to engage the public in the planning and development of park projects to ensure that they meet community needs, Lau says.

Taking Engagement to the ‘Next Level’ in West Virginia “The Community Engagement training offered in Baltimore this year will help take our current engagement to the next level,” says Terri Burhans, director of Ranson Parks and Recreation (West Virginia) and another training event attendee. Ranson

Parks and Recreation Commission envisions making its Ranson Civic Center a space for recreational activities, as well as a space that educates and inspires, providing job-readiness programs and science, technology, engineering, art and math activities. “The NRPA Pillars are the guiding principles that we use when designing events,” Burhans says. “It takes special events and elevates them to events with purpose. It guides our work to have a broader impact on the vibrancy of our city.” The Ranson Parks and Recreation Commission develops partnerships to assist with community engagement across its wellness, access and conservation programs. According to Burhans, its free walking program, Ranson Walks, engages more than 400 people in the community, who have walked more than 4,000 miles in the past year. Other partners help the agency host blood drives, healthy cooking demonstrations, an annual lunch with Santa, tree planting events and a block party to connect local kids to mentors and information about healthy lifestyles. By partnering with the Ranson Community Gardens, the agency provides more than 2,500 pounds of fresh organic produce to the community each year and hosts a monthly garden market at the community center. What’s more, the agency now has a permanent year-round supply closet to provide kids in the community with school supplies.

Iowa City Explores New Engagement Strategies During the training, six case studies were presented and discussed in breakout groups to put community engagement skills to the test. Juli Seydell Johnson, director of Iowa


The Ranson Parks and Recreation Commission creates partnerships with diverse organizations to host various events and provide different services that enhance community engagement.

City Parks & Recreation, presented on a project that Iowa City is working on to increase participation in swimming lessons by children from minority, recent immigrant and underserved neighborhoods. Barriers to participation include transportation to swim centers, adult caregivers’ attitudes concerning swimming and availability for lessons, language barriers, religious and ethnic dress and grooming practices, and access to swim supplies. The agency plans on conducting additional focus groups and outreach events to guide its strategy for engagement. “NRPA has supported our efforts to address racial and social equity by making it a national topic and priority,” Seydell Johnson says. Every week during warmer months, the agency hosts free events focused on activating neighborhood parks. It also tailors outreach efforts to neighborhoods where community members have not been accessing services. “We continue to explore outreach and engagement strategies so that all residents feel welcomed and invited to participate in our many programs and services,” Seydell Johnson says. Jennifer Fulcher is NRPA’s Communications Manager (jnguyen@nrpa.org).

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Greening Without Gentrification By Alessandro Rigolon and Jon Christensen

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Learning from parks-related anti-displacement strategies nationwide


he term “green gentrification” seems to have taken the world of parks and recreation by storm in the past few years. Passionate discussions about the role of parks in gentrifying neighborhoods and the risk of displacing the very residents that parks were meant to benefit have packed rooms and spilled out into the halls and have been explored on field trips. No one says, “we build parks, it’s not our job to worry about affordable housing” anymore. It has become clear that it is everyone’s job to worry about ensuring that parks are part of equitable community development, so that the people who most need the benefits of parks are able to stay in their communities and enjoy those benefits. Otherwise, park advocates, planners and builders are now realizing they may actually be building parks for the new wealthy residents who will replace longtime, low-income residents.

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A rendering of the 11th Street Bridge Park spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.

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The field of parks and recreation has come to recognize that when large parks are built in low-income neighborhoods, they might be contributing to, starting or accelerating gentrification, a process involving the influx of new, wealthier and, often, white residents. Research shows that the threat of green gentrification is real in many U.S. cities. Because parks make lowincome neighborhoods more desirable, they contribute to increasing housing prices and can lead to the displacement of longtime residents for whom many park equity efforts are designed and funded to serve.

Unintended Consequences Gentrification, displacement and equitable community development have become the talk of major park conferences.

Starting early, before developers and investors recognize the potential of park projects to increase surrounding property values, is considered best for success. We are engaged in an ongoing study to identify and classify what we call “parks-related antidisplacement strategies” or PRADS. Through a nationwide search, we identified 27 large park development projects in lowincome, gentrification-susceptible neighborhoods in 19 cities. We reviewed policy documents and media accounts and conducted interviews with project stakeholders. The good news is that stakeholders in about half of the projects we surveyed, including many park advocates and local community 36 Parks & Recreation

organizations, are proposing and actually implementing PRADS. The bad news is that the other half of the projects have not taken concrete actions yet. We found 13 park projects in 12 cities that are employing substantive efforts to limit green gentrification. Based on these efforts, we identified 26 types of PRADS that have been implemented or proposed in those 13 park projects, with an average of seven PRADS deployed per project. In most of these projects, it is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of PRADS in limiting displacement, but significant efforts are underway to curb green gentrification. In surveying these efforts, we found that: • A variety of strategies are being deployed around park projects across the country. Different strategies are likely more applicable and effective, depending on whether the local real estate market is hot, warm or cool and on state policies. • Starting early, before developers and investors recognize the potential of park projects to increase surrounding property values, is considered best for success. • Community engagement is crucial for implementing PRADS, especially in the early stages of park development projects. Indeed, the impetus for much of this work around the country has arisen from community-based organizations. • Projects in which equityoriented efforts are more deliberate tend to use multidisciplinary approaches, integrating affordable housing, job training and creation, and support for small businesses.

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• Some projects include efforts to influence system-wide changes in public policies (for example, ongoing park funding measures that require anti-displacement strategies) alongside projectspecific efforts (such as nonprofits building affordable housing units near new parks). • Efforts to address the threat of green gentrification directly and implement PRADS are leading many park advocates to participate in broader initiatives to address displacement, whether it is triggered by parks or not, and to conceive of parks as just one crucial part of equitable community development.

Analysis of Parks-Related Anti-Displacement Strategies In our survey, we found 26 distinct types of PRADS that have been proposed or implemented in 13 park projects in 12 cities. Some of these strategies are designed to limit green gentrification in neighborhoods near specific park projects, and thus, have a more direct nexus to parks, while others are citywide policies and initiatives that also benefit other parts of the cities. We classified the 26 strategies into six broad categories that describe three types of actors who benefit from PRADS — renters, current and prospective homeowners, and businesses and workers — and three types of actors who play a central role in implementing PRADS — private-sector developers, nonprofits and public housing organizations, and park funding agencies. Of course, these strategies are also relevant for park agencies and park advocates, but to address the challenges of green gentrification, park agencies and advocates must

Families welcome opportunities to connect with others in nearby communities.

work with these other sectors. We have not seen a case where they have the capacity to solve this issue on their own. For Renters: We found seven strategies that apply to renters of existing housing units, including rent control, anti-eviction protections (such as right to counsel) and renter education workshops that aim to enable renters to continue living in existing privately owned rental units. State laws prohibit some of the cities we studied from implementing rent control. In this group, most strategies that are being deployed in about half of the proactive projects we surveyed are policies and initiatives that apply to an entire city rather than prioritizing targeted interventions in areas near parks. Because these policies apply everywhere in a city, they could be harder to implement than strategies targeted to specific neighborhoods around parks, where residents who fear gentrification might find common ground and successfully advocate for localized anti-displacement strategies. For Homeowners: This group of strategies is intended to protect current low-income homeowners and promote homeownership among other low-income residents and is being employed in 79 percent of the proactive projects surveyed. We identified six PRADS in this group, ranging from property tax freezes for existing low-income homeowners to financial support, such as down-payment assistance for prospective low-income homeowners

and strategies to create additional revenue for low-income homeowners, such as allowing the construction of accessory dwelling units. These PRADS seek to stabilize communities near parks at risk of gentrification by keeping or transferring homeownership to longtime, low-income residents, who are often residents of color; thus, helping reduce historic inequalities in homeownership rates. Compared to renter-targeted strategies, homeownership strategies appear to have a more direct nexus to areas surrounding new parks. We found examples of public- or nonprofit-led programs designed to create or maintain

Compared to renter-targeted strategies, homeownership strategies appear to have a more direct nexus to areas surrounding new parks. low-income homeownership in communities near new park projects in several cities. For Businesses and Jobs: We identified two strategies targeted to businesses and jobs, both focusing on sustaining or increasing the earnings of longtime, low-income residents: strategies to protect or create locally owned small

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businesses (such as small business disruption funds) and strategies to create jobs for longtime residents (such as first source hiring ordinances). About half of the proactive projects surveyed employ or have proposed these strategies. Multidisciplinary approaches that

The goal is to increase the supply of below-market-rate housing units near new parks. prioritize businesses and jobs can go further than efforts that solely center on affordable housing by tackling displacement threats on two fronts: keeping rent or mortgage payments affordable and increasing the earnings of low-income residents. For Private-Sector Housing Developers: We identified seven strategies that require private-sector housing developers to contribute to the production of affordable housing, either by directly building new below-market-rate units or paying fees that cities can use to build such units. These strategies

are being used in 85 percent of the proactive park projects surveyed. These strategies include wellknown tools, such as inclusionary zoning, production incentives (such as density bonuses) and developer impact fees for affordable housing. The goal is to increase the supply of below-market-rate housing units near new parks. Most housing is constructed by the private sector, highlighting the importance of these strategies, and several cities have deliberately targeted the implementation of these policies in areas surrounding new parks, demonstrating that these strategies can have a good nexus with park development. For Nonprofit and Public Housing Organizations: These strategies focus on nonprofit and public housing organizations that build or manage subsidized housing, including municipal-level housing departments. Although we only identified three strategies as part of this group, they have been proposed or implemented in every one of the 13 proactive projects we surveyed, demonstrating their importance. These strategies include

housing trust funds, community land trusts and other forms of land banking and value-capture mechanisms, such as tax-increment financing, that generate funds for affordable housing. For Public Park Funding Agencies: We identified one strategy that can be used by park funding agencies, such as states, the federal government and counties. Funders can require or incentivize grant recipients to include anti-displacement strategies in their proposals for park development projects. Los Angeles County has been a leader in this area. The implementation plan for Measure A, a Los Angeles County parcel-tax funding source for parks, includes displacementavoidance strategies. Measure A awards additional points to competitive grant applications that include such strategies. In California, some state conservancies that fund parks, open space, trails, environmental restoration and green infrastructure projects are also beginning to implement this strategy — as is the state’s Strategic Growth Council, which administers grants for climate resilience. This demonstrates how government agencies can create overarching policies that require or incentivize park developers to work with housing advocates and developers to deploy antidisplacement strategies to unlock public funding for parks.

Recommendations for Parks-Related AntiDisplacement Strategies Based on this survey of the state

Community engagement creates opportunities for local residents and community-based organizations to educate local governments about challenges. 38 Parks & Recreation

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The 11th Street Bridge Park project employs methods that prioritize deep, long-term community engagement.

of the field, we offer the following recommendations for project stakeholders — including park agencies and advocates and their allies working on housing and community development — who are committed to greening marginalized communities without displacing their most vulnerable residents: • Implement parks-related antidisplacement strategies at the very early stages of park planning and development. This means that for large park projects in low-income neighborhoods, planning for PRADS needs to begin at the same time as planning a park before investors recognize the potential of new park projects. Planning a park and planning displacementavoidance strategies should be part of an integrated process involving collaborations between park organizations and housing organizations. • Engage communities in developing approaches to avoid displacement near new parks. Because public park agencies and elected officials do not always understand the threat of green gentrification, community engagement can create opportunities for local residents and community-based organizations to educate local governments about the challenges and opportunities for solutions. • Create collaboratives that include park and housing advocates, such as the Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing collaborative (LA ROSAH), which can advocate locally for policy change,

provide tools and share lessons with other organizations in a wider network. Successful parks-related anti-displacement strategies will be site-specific, but as this report shows, similar solutions are already being deployed in many different projects. • Combine the creation and preservation of affordable housing with initiatives to create betterpaying jobs for local residents to tackle gentrification threats from two different angles: increasing income and making housing affordable. These multidisciplinary approaches are being employed in projects that have had a more deliberate focus on equity from their conception, such as the 11th Street Bridge in Washington, D.C., and the India Basin Shoreline Park in San Francisco. • Integrate a requirement for displacement avoidance strategies into policies, laws and park funding implementation at the city, county and state level for wider, long-term impact beyond single park sites. • Measure, evaluate and report the successes and failures of

PRADS for park projects. Engage third-party independent researchers in this process and publicly share data, results and lessons learned. This will help all of us better understand which PRADS can be most effective in different contexts.

Engage third-party independent researchers in this process and publicly share data, results and lessons learned. This will help all of us better understand which PRADS can be most effective in different contexts.

Note: The Greening Without Gentrification: Learning from Parks-Related Anti-Displacement Strategies Nationwide report by Rigolon and Christensen is available online at ioes.ucla.edu/project/prads. Alessandro Rigolon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah (alessandro.rigolon@utah.edu). Jon Christensen is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA (jonchristensen@ioes.ucla.edu).

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Breaking the Fear Factor How including adventure into a park’s design builds confidence through controlled risk-taking By Shannon D. Gordon, ASLA, PLA

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Adventure parks are growing in popularity thanks to the numerous benefits they provide, such as the opportunity to face fears and build confidence.

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opes courses and rock-climbing gyms have been steadily growing in popularity over the years, but a new wave of adventure parks is sweeping the globe. They offer new experiences for both adults and children, providing them with safe spaces to confront fears and build confidence. This phenomenon has become so pervasive that it is influencing park and recreation trends. In fact, many municipalities have or are considering their own operations or entering the expanding market through public/private partnerships to offer activities, like zip lines, canopy tours and aerial adventure courses. What’s more, elevated teambuilding courses are skyrocketing in popularity. Studies have shown the adventure park trend has been steadily gaining momentum. Adventure Park Insider Magazine (APIM) State of the Industry Report states that traditional adventure play, with a one-time fee to enter a facility with elements, like high ropes courses, climbing walls and canopy tours, are continuing to grow in popularity with visitors ranging in age from 7 to 65 and beyond. As opposed to traditional adventure play, pay-to-play adventures require you to pay a singular fee to participate in a high-thrill activity.

While traditional adventure parks continue to grow in popularity, the largest growth areas are in the pay-to-play offerings. Unsurprisingly, the cornerstone activities of traditional high and low ropes, aerial adventure and zip-line activities are the most popular and continue to rise. However, secondary activities, such as mountain coasters, climbing walls and bungee trampolines, also show high usage. Adventure playgrounds in parks are emerging as an alternative to more traditional designs, with Aus-

tralia, Canada and Europe leading the way. Adventure design in parks is a way to introduce risk-taking as a form of play. Essentially, it allows people to push the boundaries of their fears in a controlled environment. These new experiences incorporate play at heights, high speed, dangerous feeling experiences, roughhousing and lost play — where people aren’t sure where they are. Both adults and children can benefit from these new experiences, because they build confidence as skills increase. Furthermore, these activities force participants to focus more attention on play because of the complexity of the challenges. These takeaways are then translated into other aspects of their lives.

Developmental Benefits of Risk Play Studies have shown risk play to be an important aspect of childhood development, because it can improve risk perception and competence over time (https://tinyurl. com/y3yw9kyj). Risky play helps kids conquer fears of stressful situations, learn how to follow through, improve social interaction skills, increase creativity, assist in understanding their limitations, recognize areas for improvement and help form positive attitudes. Other benefits include improved motor skills and cognitive understanding of the environment, not to mention the exhilaration they receive after successfully defeating their fears. In fact, it is reported that kids pay more attention while participating in these activities. The lack of risk in the play environment could lead to children who are “risk-averse,” never having

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learned how to effectively manage everyday situations, or on the flip side, those who seek out dangerous or hazardous locations to experience a thrill. Mental health professionals also agree the lack of risk in play can lead to a lack of resilience.

Safety and Controlled Risk For many years, there has rightly been a cultural focus on safety, but the popularity of adventure parks suggests there is demand from the public for a safe way to recreate with perceived risks. Along with offering thrilling experiences, designers, owners and managers still consider safety and liability the most critical factor in the development and operation of adventure parks. The goal is to provide a controlled environment in which to experience

risk. Parks implement vigorous safety measures, such as harnesses, tethers, safety hooks or carabiners and the belay cable or zip line. Helmets, harnesses and hardware items are consistently checked for each participant before entering any adventure activity. Training of personnel must be taken seriously and can be a complex issue. Personnel can be trained in-house, if the expertise is available. If not, third-party training is available. Reports indicate that both traditional and pay-to-play agencies are split on in-house and third-party training. Regardless of in-house or outsourced training, documentation of that training is increasingly important. Although reports show an increased interest by both traditional and pay-to-play industries in

Individuals ages 7 and up can safely participate in the activities that adventure parks offer.

serving children under the age of 7, currently due to height requirements for managing safety equipment, children need to be at least 7 or 8 years old to participate safely. Low-level activities can be considered for children who don’t meet the height requirements. Incidents and injuries do periodically occur at adventure parks, with the largest being minor scrapes, dislocations and other similar injuries. Since slips and falls were the most common cause of injuries reported in the APIM report, it makes sense that the category of scrapes, minor lacerations and bruises was the most common type of injury followed by

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sprains. “Other� injuries rounded out the third category, which included items like friction burn, heat injuries and insect bites/stings.

Cost of Implementation and Operations Costs for development and implementation of adventure parks vary greatly, depending on the purpose and the features included in the park. Using existing trees and wooden poles as structures, the cost of the

Numerous safety measures are implemented, including harnesses, tethers, safety hooks and belay cables, to create a safe environment for risk-taking.

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park might range from $250,000 to $400,000. Steel structures are more expensive and may range between $700,000 and $4 million. Larger adventure facilities can cost upwards of $10 million. Just as costs have a wide range, so do park sizes. The most common size utilizes around 10 acres of land. Larger operations range from 87 to 185 acres. Operation costs depend on the activities and elements included and the size of the facility. A traditional adventure park with one fee to enter the park can operate with expenses less than $100,000, with larger facilities reaching closer to $250,000 in operational costs each

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year. In contrast, pay-to-play operations can cost $1 million or more to operate. When operational costs are compared with revenues, the gross profit margin of each segment of the industry can be calculated. On average in 2017, traditional operations reported a gross profit margin of 13 percent, with pay-to-play operations averaging 34 percent. College students make up a majority of the employees. They typically are available during the peak season, are attracted to the outdoor experience and activities and due to fewer financial burdens, require less significant salaries.

Risky play helps kids build confidence, learn their limitations and improve social and problem-solving skills.

Landscape Architecture and Adventure Parks Landworks Studio and OZMOY, LLC, are combining landscape architecture design principles with adventure parks to usher these experiences into more locations. The Landworks Studio and OZMOY teams see each project as an opportunity to bridge the goals of clients with the needs of those who use the spaces. The teams’ fundamental goals are to elevate the users’ experience and provide opportunities for lasting memories. The team of OZMOY and Landworks Studio got its start by partnering on a design project for the city of Jefferson City, Missouri. The project is located at the Missouri State Penitentiary that was decommissioned in 2004, and now serves as a great historic landmark in downtown Jefferson City. The existing exercise yard is used as the main outdoor space, taking advantage of the walled and towered grounds to develop the theme of the project. Having this impressive facility as the backdrop for the project is an amazing opportunity. Many prison-themed elements are included in the design, like the zip line that travels the perimeter of the facility, as well as multiple challenge-based features — including the prison break, a special event that starts users in a cell that has multiple decision- and adventure-based escape challenges. This project is still in the planning stages but looks to draw adventure seekers from across the Midwest. During the design of the Penitentiary project, the team forged a partnership, where each firm of

fers its own distinct set of services. OZMOY designs and engineers the park equipment, while Landworks Studio creates the master plan for the spaces they inhabit. Together, they are now working on projects around the world, with a shared goal of creating valuable adventure experiences for both municipal and private entities.

Seeing the Big Picture As these trends continue to gain momentum, municipalities and park agencies nationwide are considering dipping their toes in the pool. The park and recreation industry has seen a massive increase in the introduction of this type of play, with the advent of cable play and child-sized zip lines springing up all over the nation. Recreation play companies have really hit the mark with these offerings. Over the next several years, the world of adventure parks and traditional parks and playgrounds will continue to merge. Television programs, such as “American Ninja Warrior,” perpetuate the desire

for more challenging recreational experiences, creating an interest for populations ranging from 7 to 65. As play continues to evolve, parks and recreation should consider capitalizing on the demand by adding adventure parks or adventure elements to their systems. These elements have many developmental benefits and meet the increasing demand for more adventure in recreation. The integration of adventure play into parks throughout the United States will likely continue to increase. Adding features, like climbing walls, challenge and ropes courses, as well as expanded ways to capture the moment, like photo services and phone apps, will continue to elevate these experiences. The park and recreation industry should be considering how it can capitalize on these trends and design professionals should keep their fingers on the pulse of these emerging inclinations. Shannon D. Gordon, ASLA, PLA, is the Director of Business Development of Landworks Studio (shannon@landworksstudio.com).

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NRPA UPDATE Meet Me at the Park Surpasses Goal More than 1 million children and families with increased access to play and physical activity By Jennifer Stromberg


n 2017, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The Walt Disney Company came together through the Meet Me at the Park program to improve access to inclusive play spaces for 1 million children and families in underserved communities. In just its third year, we have surpassed the goal and are now celebrating the impact these projects have made in communities across the country. Since the inception of the Meet Me at the Park Play Spaces campaign, $2.3 million has been invested in 75 local communities in 39 states. The emotional, cognitive and physical benefits of play are wellknown, making the achievement of this milestone a cause for celebration. “These play spaces haven’t just impacted the lives of those who live in these 75 communities, they’ve also provided inspiration to other communities throughout the coun-

try,” says Kellie May, vice president of programs at NRPA. These new play spaces will have improved access to play for more than 1 million children and families. They comprise an urban and rural mix of racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities. The projects themselves integrate play through mobile recreation, trails and walking paths, sports fields and neighborhood park spaces.


Children at Iowa City, Iowa’s Riverfront Crossing Park Nature Play Area play on what was once an industrial site and floodplain.

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For a full listing of all the Meet Me at the Park projects and locations, visit www.nrpa.org/meetme atthepark.

Evaluation Shows Increase in Park Use and Other Postive Trends Through Meet Me at the Park, we have conducted formal evaluations to assess how improved access to play spaces in underserved communities changes the use of and physical activity at the space, especially by youth. These evaluations were conducted using the systematic observations of play and recreation in communities (SOPARC) method and intercept surveys from park attendees. The SOPARC evaluations found that parks with renovated play areas saw an increase in visitors engaging in moderate-to-vigorous activity. One project that exemplifies the program is the City of Port Huron Parks and Recreation’s Tike Trak in Michigan. The agency received a 2017 grant to build an area to introduce bicycle safety skills and education to children in the local community. The project also included a “tike town,” which features ADA-accessible raised garden beds, nature exploration sites, art stations and sensory play. “The hope is to get kids on their bikes at a young age and get them outside in a way that is stimulating and interesting,” says Nancy Winzer, parks and recreation director in Port Huron, Michigan. “When we do

Kids at the Manette Neighborhood Park in Bremerton, Washington, are a part of the 1 million children and families with improved access to inclusive play spaces.

to serving people with disabilities. Before they received the Meet Me at the Park grant, there was no fully accessible play space and options were limited for healthy play. To remedy this, they chose to transform a local park into a state-of-theart accessible playground, a place where all kids could feel included. A tremendous amount of research went into identifying proper equipment for all abilities. The components not only had to accommodate a range of abilities, but also fit within the framework of the existing park and provide a variety of physical and sensory experiences. Postrenovation, the park continues to have a beneficial impact on the neighborhood and surrounding community. Results of the evaluations also showed that the play space renovations have had a positive effect on park use and park-based physical activity. The increased exposure to natural settings and improved physical activity can have longterm positive impacts on health outcomes. These large-scale infrastructure improvements are a significant capital investment, but evaluation suggests that this investment is paying off through increased use of these neighborhood play areas and subsequent community engagement. The Heartland Regional Medical Center Playground was renovated into a space that children and adults of all ability levels from the Southern Illinois and tri-state area can enjoy. The renovations include a fitness area to encourage physical


that, it encourages them to carry those habits throughout their life.” Intercept surveys showed that the park renovations had a positive influence on nearby communities and increased the number of respondents who indicated they and their children were exercising and playing more. Improved play spaces led to 80 percent of surveyed park visitors feeling the projects had a positive impact on nearby communities and a 16 percent increase in first-time park visitors. This impact was also seen in Highland, Illinois’ Rinderer Park, a 2018 grant recipient. The city of Highland constructed a playground that supports children and adults with physical limitations. The playground is designed so that people of all abilities can interact with the play space. The playground features sensory panels, a rock challenge wall, vertical climber, log slice climber and pod climber. “This playground states loud and clear that Highland cares for its residents and values people of all abilities,” says a local resident. Park department personnel indicated that their involvement in conducting the intercept surveys helped them connect with community members, learn firsthand how the renovations have impacted park use, identify additional park improvements that are wanted by community members and understand how to better communicate with the people who live nearby. This type of community engagement was also evident in a Play Spaces grant-funded project in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. For many years, the city of Ocean Springs has worked closely with Disability Connection, a local nonprofit dedicated

activity. The park’s new improvements will allow people to come together to create new memories and friendships. According to a park volunteer, “The development of this playground will help children understand that it is OK to be different and accept one another for who they are.” These innovative and transformative projects have provided inspiration to local park agencies across the country to include accessible and welcoming play spaces in their communities. The Meet Me at the Park program continues to demonstrate that by coming together, we can provide kids and families across the country with access to healthier lifestyles, as well as with safe, inclusive and innovative play spaces to enjoy for years to come. – Jennifer Stromberg, Program Manager for NRPA

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In 2017, the National Recreation and Park Association and The Walt Disney Company launched the Meet Me at the Park Play Spaces grant program with the intention to positively impact one million children and families by providing access to physical activity and play spaces through inclusive and imaginative play. In its third year, the grant program has successfully achieved this goal and is celebrating the impact these projects have made in communities throughout the country.


children and families with increased access to play and physical activity


Significant increase in daily park use.

Increase in the number of volunteers at park programs/events.

Increase in number of people exercising at the park post-renovation.






million invested in local communities



of surveyed park visitors believe the projects have had a positive impact on nearby communities


increase in first-time park visitors

VOICES FROM THE COMMUNITY Kellie May, Vice President of Programs, NRPA Local Resident, Huntington, WV “These transformative projects are providing inspiration for other communities to create their own innovative and welcoming spaces.”

“Play should not be stressful for any child and this playground has helped eliminate that stress for many families in our area.”

Learn more at nrpa.org/MeetMeAtThePark Evaluation data was collected over two years through systematic observations of play and recreation and intercept surveys via hand-held tablets from adults (defined as aged 18 and older) regarding their&use of the parks. 48 Parks Recreation | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

Alderman Michael J. Murphy, 10th District, Milwaukee, WI “Unfortunately, you see city governments cut back on parks and having partnerships like those with Disney and NRPA [allows us to] have the resources, the will and the drive to do even more.”

Nancy Winzer, Parks and Recreation Director, Port Huron, MI “The hope is to get kids on their bikes at a young age and get them outside in a way that is stimulating and interesting. When we do that, it encourages them to carry those habits throughout their life.”

NRPA and American Water Partner on the Building Better Communities Program


aining access to nature and water-inspired play spaces can provide far-reaching benefits for communities. Together, NRPA and the American Water Charitable Foundation are helping to build these spaces through the Building Better Communities program.

that overlooks the river to allow its residents to enjoy water in a natural setting. This will also provide the opportunity to educate the community on water stewardship. The project will overlook the local Melvin Price Locks and Dams and educate the public about the importance of the Mississippi River and how it impacts the community. “Ensuring children and families can experience water and have access to water-based education and nature play spaces is key to building the next generation of environmental stewards,” says Karl Schrass, NRPA director of conservation. “We are proud to support this important work through our partnership with the American

Children play at a water-inspired park in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, created through the Building Better Communities program.


A total of $500,000 in grants will be provided to two parks to create community-focused, waterinspired play areas. These 2019 Building Better Communities grantees include: • Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District in Huntington, West Virginia • City of Alton Parks and Recreation in Alton, Illinois The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District will create the St. Cloud All-Inclusive Splashpad, which will provide an accessible water experience at a local park to families of all abilities. It will be specially designed to accommodate those with mobility issues and other disabilities, creating equal access to water play. To ensure those in their local community are learning to be future water stewards, educational programing on water quality and environmental conservation will be held at the park. Environmentally friendly design elements, including recirculation systems, bioswales and permeable surfacing, will be incorporated as well.   The City of Alton Parks and Recreation will create the first-ever water play experience for its community. The city sits on the Mississippi River, but due to flood walls, it does not have access to the river and does not have a public pool or splash pad. The city of Alton will create a recirculation splash pad

Water Charitable Foundation and to encourage communities everywhere to explore the wonders of nature through their local parks and recreation.” Since 2014, the Foundation has awarded 14 NRPA grants to American Water communities in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Grants continue to help communities create or enhance public park spaces or programs that encourage the community to engage in water and natureinspired play, connect to the natural world and focus on environmental education and water-based recreation. Read more about the impact one of these projects has had in the article, “Lively Parks, Healthy People” (www.nrpa.org/livelyparks) from the June 2018 issue of Parks & Recreation magazine.

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NRPA Awards Grant to Support Equitable Access to Parks


RPA stands behind the belief that all people should have access to a quality park. Through 10 Minute Walk, NRPA is working with The Trust for Public Land and Urban Land Institute to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality parks and public green spaces within a 10-minute walk of home.

In September, NRPA announced the 10 communities that will receive the third round of 10 Minute Walk grant funding totaling $400,000. To help these cities increase access to

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quality parks close-to-home, grantees will also receive ongoing technical assistance, professional development and access to networks of like-minded park and recreation professionals. The communities receiving grant funding are: • Albuquerque, New Mexico • Cleveland, Ohio • Crawford County, Arkansas • Gwinnett County, Georgia

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• Klamath Falls, Oregon • Miami, Florida • Norwalk, California • Perris, California • Starkville, Mississippi • Winchester-Clark County, Kentucky “Parks are essential to healthy and thriving communities, but we need long-term solutions to ensure parks are well-maintained, accessible and located where they are needed most,” says Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. “This funding allows cities to create systemic change that will continue to benefit their communities, not just today, but far into the future.” As part of this work, NRPA has created the Community Engagement Resource Guide (www. n r p a . o r g / C o m mu n i t y E n g a ge mentGuide), which provides park and recreation professionals with a roadmap to implement equitable and inclusive community engagement strategies around the planning, design, construction, maintenance and activation of park projects and plans. Read more about this guide and associated training in the column, “Community Engagement Best Practices” on page 32. For more information about 10 Minute Walk, see www.nrpa. org/10MinuteWalk. Read how some agencies are embracing the effort in the article, “Improving Systems to Achieve Equitable Park Access” (www.nrpa.org/parks-rec reation-magazine/2019/october/ improving-systems-to-achieve-eq uitable-park-access).

Exhibitors Donate Materials After 2019 Conference


ollowing the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore this past September, many exhibitors chose to generously donate materials to the Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP). This effort was facilitated by NRPA and is ongoing through the BCC as it attempts to ensure items are repurposed to keep them out of the landfill and to help organizations in need. The items donated included: • Basketball rims and backboards by Bison, Inc. • Metal bench and bike rack by Anova • Dog ramp and pet caddy by Gyms for Dogs • Crab picnic table by Plastic Recycling of Iowa • In-ground trash can receptacle by Sybertech

• Two portable outdoor PingPong tables by Cornilleau • Chess picnic table and Inner Harbor-themed benches by UltraSite • Baltimore crab bench by Kirby Built • Trash receptacles by Victor Stanley • Portable score board and rack by

BSN Sports • Sports equipment by Gopher Sports • Live plants and trees by Rust Oak Nursery • Medicine ball rack by BSN Sports • Tote bags and neck wallets to the BCC for food banks by NRPA For more information about exhibiting at the 2020 NRPA Annual Conference in Orlando, as well as donating exhibit materials, contact Lindsay Shannon at 703.858.2178, email lshannon@ nrpa.org or visit www.nrpa.org/ exhibit.

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NRPA Award Applications Open in January


etting an award not only is a validation of the great work you do, but also can be used to show decision makers and policymakers the intrinsic value of what you do. Starting January 6, 2020, NRPA will begin accepting applications for the 2020 Awards Program, and there are several opportunities to choose from: The National Gold Medal Award Program (presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with NRPA) honors agencies nationwide that demonstrate

excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services. The NRPA Innovation Awards recognize the latest advancements in the field, showcasing the inspiring park and recreation agencies that have improved and empowered their communities through innovative practices in park design, health and wellness, conservation and social equity. The NRPA Spotlight Awards are presented to individuals, including park and recreation professionals, volunteers, engaged community members and park advocates. These awards honor the professional and personal efforts in the field of parks and recreation. NRPA Scholarships and Fellowships recipients can attend and

explore the operation of the field at the NRPA Annual Conference, where they develop professional contacts with leadership and members from around the country. They receive complimentary NRPA Annual Conference registration, a travel stipend and reimbursement for hotel expenses. The Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame awards honor individuals who have worked to improve the quality of life in America through parks and recreation and who serve as examples for future leaders in continuing the recreation and park movement. Each award has specific eligibility criteria, and all applicants must be current NRPA members. Visit www.nrpa.org/awards for details about each award.

hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to ring in the New Year by taking part in guided hikes led by knowledgeable state park staff and volunteers. According to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), which began administering the program in 2012, “the distance and rigor vary from park to park, but all hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family. People are invited to savor the beauty of the state park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guide, so they may be inspired to take advantage of these local treasures throughout the year.” From California to Maine, hik-

ers can experience a variety of outdoor recreation activities, including mountain and hill climbing, kayaking, walks along lakes and beaches, exploration of trails through great forests, wildlife expeditions, bird-watching and much more, while improving their overall mental and physical health and wellness. Visit www.stateparks.org/initia tives-special-programs/first-dayhikes, and check out the map to see where a hike may be scheduled near you or contact info@state parks.org to find out about organizing/promoting your own First Day Hike to celebrate the new year!

First Day Hikes


anuary 1, 2020 will mark the 28th anniversary of First Day Hikes. This initiative started in Massachusetts to get more people out in parks and enjoying nature at a time of the year not typically associated with outdoor recreation. Each year, First Day Hikes programs across the United States get

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Protect Yourself — NRPA Insurance Discount Programs through K&K Insurance


RPA offers its members risk management solutions through NRPA-sponsored insurance programs provided by K&K Insurance. Send teams and leagues utilizing your fields and facilities to www.nrpainsurance.com and require that they supply you with a certificate of insurance. In addition to general liability coverage, the teams/leagues can purchase excess accident medical coverage for injury to participants. These programs cover most team sports, as well as coaches, volunteers, instructors and interns! So, what type of coverage does NRPA offer? Team Sports: This combined liability and excess accident medical coverage provides valuable protection to youth and adult sports teams for multiple risks, on and off the playing field. Football: This combined liability and excess accident medical coverage provides protection to youth tackle-, flag- and touch-football teams. Instructors and Interns: Important general liability protection for instructors and interns while acting within the scope of their duties granted to them by the sponsoring organization, typically a park and recreation department. Blanket Accident: Blanket Accident insurance is typically purchased by park and recreation departments or municipalities to provide protection for participants engaged in both sponsored athletic and non-athletic recreational activities. Equipment Property: Provides property coverage for team inventory of sports equipment. It covers all equipment owned by the insured organization while in the building specified for storage. Directors’ and Officers’: Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance protects directors, officers, volunteers and the nonprofit sports organization itself against claims alleging mismanagement of the organization and other exposures. Also, for those activities your agency officially sponsors, we can offer stand-alone excess accident medical coverage for the participants, a way for you to provide enhanced value and an incentive for increased participation. Not just valuable protection for you, but for your community, too! For more information, visit www. nrpainsurance.com, email info@nrpa insurance.com or call 1-800-722-5676.

Hot Topics NRPA Connect is an online network with more than 63,000 professionals to answer your questions, share your challenges and discuss trending topics in the field. Check out what is being discussed this month: Trouble Finding Entry-Level Jobs – As a college senior who is currently looking for future positions after graduation, I am struggling to find entry-level positions. Does anyone have any advice or information they would like to share? I would really appreciate any feedback. Several NRPA members offered the following suggestions: When I started my career, I found that I had to be willing to move, and more than once, to grow my experience. I’m from Massachusetts but ended up in the Midwest, where I found the park and rec opportunities strong and funded.

Within our department, many new-hires come from our parttime staff, who have worked hard and proven themselves. The baby boomer generation (I’m one of them) has begun, and will continue, to retire — opening positions for mid-level and entry-level positions. Working part-time may be one option.

Look at entry-level careers in adjacent or related fields. I started my recreation career as a programmer for Special Olympics. It was an extremely rewarding experience. Nonprofits, school districts, colleges, golf courses, resorts and so on all offer entry-level positions that will help you build and diversify your résumé.

Log in to NRPA Connect (www.nrpaconnect.org) today to read even more of the discussion!

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Member Spotlight: Jende Smith, CPRP, AFO By Lindsay Collins


ende Smith, CPRP, AFO, is the aquatic and recreation supervisor for the city of St. Joseph, Missouri. When asked what her job entails, Smith replies, “I usually tease that it’s B., all of the above.” Her primary responsibilities include providing aquatics services for the city, which has two outdoor pools, one of which is a water park. The city also has a joint venture with Missouri Western State University, where Smith helps with programming, staff training and supportive services at the university pool. She also has presented regularly on the subject of aquatics for the Missouri Park and Recreation Association and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association. Parks & Recreation recently spoke with Smith to learn about her career in aquatics and how she keeps up with the field. Parks & Recreation: How do you keep up to date on the latest trends in aquatics, and what resources have you found to be helpful? Jende Smith: NRPA has a lot of helpful resources — I geek out on webinars and research. Everybody kind of makes fun of me for that,

On a daily basis, we try to be creative and really do more with less and see what we can do to think outside the box and make that work for us. but it’s necessary to really stay viable in the field, because things are changing so quickly. I really try to do as much research independently as I can, and if I have an opportunity to sit in on a webinar or 54 Parks & Recreation

hear a conference that’s presenting a new idea or something, I will jump at the opportunity to do that as frequently as I can. The other thing I really try to do is diversify my certification profile. I really try to think outside the box and think about other certifications or other programs that might correlate to what I’m doing on a daily basis to give a broader spectrum of experience in the field. P&R: Over the course of time that you’ve been teaching aquatics, what’s a memorable moment that stands out? Smith: You know, every time I teach a class that’s a certifying course and I have a student [who] has struggled or gone into that with some hesitation, when they ultimately finish that course successfully, the reaction is always memorable. It’s always a very dynamic reaction whenever they have that successful moment, and it’s just enjoyable watching that happen. P&R: What do you see as some of the challenges in the area of aquatics going forward? Smith: Hiring challenges are always

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difficult — lifeguard retention, lifeguard recruitment. Of course, the training because we’re not seeing as many individuals participating in the swimming programs, and their swimming abilities have been declining collectively. On the flip side of that, our other challenges are always going to be budgetary related. On a daily basis, we try to be creative and really do more with less and see what we can do to think outside the box and make that work for us. P&R: Are there any takeaways from your job that you have found to be helpful to you in life in general? Smith: Don’t procrastinate. Once you jump the hurdle and start to be proactive rather than reactive, it really changes the dynamic and changes the tasks you can complete and minimizes stress. – Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine

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 www.nrpa.org/education.

NRPA PARTNER SCHOOLS NRPA partners with Oglebay’s National Training Center and North Carolina State University to offer several schools providing high-level education and networking experiences at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia. Registration is currently open for the following schools: Event Management School — Whether new to events or a seasoned event manager, grow your network and steal ideas for your next event! Maintenance Management School — This is a comprehensive program focused on developing maintenance plans to help formulate your yearly goals. Sustainability Institute — We have newly partnered with the Sustainability Institute, which produces a comprehensive instructional program that will help develop sustainability plans for your park and recreation facility. Revenue Development and Management School — This program is targeted toward agencies that must rely wholly or in part on generating revenues. These schools fill up early, so register today at www.nrpa.org/education to meet like-minded professionals and add these skills to your résumé!


8-10 Landover, Maryland 21-23 Phoenix, Arizona 27-29 Kearns, Utah


4-6 Burlington, Kentucky 9-11 Hoover, Alabama






3-4 4-5 4-5 10-11 14-15 17-18

Bessemer, Alabama St. Louis Park, Minnesota Okinawa, Japan Concord, North Carolina Hialeah, Florida Harrison, Tennessee

7-8 8-9 14-15 14-15 14-15 16-17

Greenville, South Carolina Irvine, California Burford, Georgia Jefferson, Wisconsin Henderson, North Carolina North Miami, Florida




January 12–17, 2020

Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/Event-School

January 26–31, 2020 Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/MMS

February 2–7, 2020

Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/sustainability

March 15–20, 2020

Wheeling, West Virginia www.nrpa.org/Revenue-School


Check our next issue for dates coming in 2020!


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OPERATIONS Using Grant Funding for Your Aquatic Facility’s AOP Sanitation By Tom Schaefer


s your aquatic facility seeking to improve operations, air quality and energy use with secondary or supplemental sanitation, but doesn’t have the budget for it? Help exists in the form of grant opportunities. Utility providers, in order to encourage better energy efficiency, are offering grants that incentivize aquatic facilities to switch from inadequate sanitation methods to better solutions, like the Advanced Oxidation Process or AOP.

Why Programs Provide Grant Money Opportunities An aquatic facility that efficiently uses energy puts less of a strain on the electrical grid. If qualifying aquatic facilities aren’t meeting energy efficiency or air quality standards, some utility providers will offer to incentivize them for implementing one of the following changes: 1. Replacing Energy-Inefficient Technologies - The first and most straightforward way to receive grant money is by upgrading an aquatic facility’s secondary or supplemental sanitation method from Medium Pressure Ultraviolet, or MPUV, to an AOP technology. Since AOP

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systems tend to be much more energy efficient, the energy saved by switching technologies is enough to qualify for grant money in most cases. Compared to commonly used sanitation technologies, like MPUV, which are relatively inefficient in energy consumption, AOP technologies can provide facilities huge savings in energy costs. For example, one YMCA received $10,000 in grant money and saved a similar amount in annual electrical costs by replacing its MPUV sanitation. AOP systems, such as Clear Comfort, are more effective and use 80 to 90 percent less electricity than standard MPUV systems. This could save aquatics facilities thousands of dollars annually on electric bills and significantly reduce their environmental impact. A simple cost comparison can be enough to qualify an aquatic facility for thousands of dollars in grant money for each body of water. 2. Improving Indoor Pool Air Quality with AOP - The second grant option offers greater savings and more grant money, but strictly applies to indoor pools. Because an AOP system can significantly lower chloramine levels, thereby improving air quality, it can also allow indoor aquatics facilities to reduce the amount of fresh air supply they use. This results in a considerable amount of savings on heating and cooling costs. For example, one basic six-lane facility in Iowa added supplemen-

amount of expected savings. If this amount complies with the program requirements, it will likely be approved. Typically, the application must be approved before installing the equipment, and the grant is paid only after proof of installation is provided.

Can Multiple Grants Be Used on One Project?

tal treatment to lower its chloramine levels and was able to reduce its supply air by 17 percent. This improvement alone brought the facility’s annual natural gas bill down by $14,000, and its local utility provider granted the facility $17,000 to cover the costs associated with adding the equipment. While both AOP systems and MPUV systems reduce chloramines to improve air quality, the results are not equal. A case study of two similar recreational facilities in the Los Angeles area, one with an AOP system and the other with MPUV, showed that the AOP system reduced chloramines by 55 percent more than the MPUV system. Most indoor pools add more outside air than the required levels in the ASHRAE Standard 62.1 international building code for acceptable indoor air quality ventilation. In addition, heating and cooling this outside air can be expensive and requires a significant amount of energy consumption. By using an AOP system to control chloramine levels and maintain healthy indoor air quality, facilities can reduce the amount of outside fresh air required, bringing it closer to ASHRAE Standard levels. Even

a small reduction in fresh make-up air can result in significant energy savings and grant money opportunities.

How to Take Advantage of Incentive Programs The first step an aquatic facility can take to receive grant money is to search online or call its utility company to determine if such a custom incentive program is available. For information about grants that incentivize facilities for switching from MPUV to AOP systems, simply contact your electrical provider and let the company know you want to upgrade from MPUV to a more energy-efficient AOP system. The provider will be able to guide you through the grant proposal process. For a grant based on improved air quality, measure the volume of fresh air supplied to your facility. This can be done with a simple test by an HVAC company. If the volume of air is more than ASHRAE Standard requirements, apply for the relevant grant online. You will need to provide the desired room temperature of the facility, as well as the target volume of air supply reduction in order to determine the

There are various incentive programs available, and it might be possible to get multiple grants for the same project. In the case of the Iowa facility mentioned earlier, the entire project was funded through multiple grants. Make sure to be thorough in researching all potential grant opportunities and apply for as many as possible that will fit with your project. After checking your facility’s qualifications with your electrical and natural gas providers, use the key search term “custom energy incentive” on sites, like energy.gov, which have nearly 378 custom programs. By upgrading to AOP sanitation technology, you can greatly improve your facility’s air and water quality, while significantly reducing energy costs and consumption. The best part is that when you make the most of the available programs offered by your local utility company, you may not even need to invest a dime of your own budget into the project and the ongoing energy savings is like adding money to your budget. Detailed references for this article are available at www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2019/December/using-grant-funding-for-your-aquatics-facilitys-AOP-sanitation. Tom Schaefer is the Technical Sales Director for Clear Comfort (tom@clearcomfort.com).

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Parks & Recreation Crossword

Across 1 Offering services to all 9 Gull-like bird 10 Word with “circle” or “final” 12 Body for a very popular USA sport, abbr. 13 Emotional intelligence, for short 14 Volunteers are glad to help pick it up 17 Diversify 18 Popular park volunteer activity, goes with 21 across 20 Middle grade 21 See 18 across 23 Effective center of an activity 25 Help cry 26 Artists body of work 28 ____ leaves: for composting 32 Award presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration 33 Elegant large white bird 34 Pricing word 36 ___ and Water Conservation Fund 37 The Fit2Lead program is reducing this danger to young people in their communities

Down 1 Creation of a new devices or methods 2 Diet concern 3 ____ friendly 4 Glide over white stuff 5 Vitamin measurement, abbr. 6 Kilmer of “Batman Forever” 7 NPRA Park ____, comprehensive source of data benchmarks and insights for parks and recreation agencies 8 Optical illusions in a desert 10 Wall or Main 11 Acadia National Park’s state 15 Place to stay 16 Maui greeting 19 New, prefix 22 Daily pressure 24 Prominent part of a pelican 27 Reversal of direction, 2 words 29 Des Moines native 30 Sort 31 Prefix, half 32 Split soup 34 Place for short 35 R and B singer, Green

Complete the crossword, then visit www.nrpa.org/crossword to verify your answers and to enter a drawing to receive a $50 shopping credit for AthleticJunction.com. A winner will be randomly selected December 31, 2019. 58 Parks & Recreation

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PRODUCTS Material Collection Mower Attachment John Deere is expanding its ZTrak™ mower attachment line-up with the addition of a new three-bag Material Collection System (MCS). Compatible with all gas-powered Z900 models, this bagging system features an improved design for more efficient material collection and superior performance. The new design reduces the size of the MCS, making it easier to maneuver and transport on trailers. With stronger suction on the blower, there are no double passes required, saving operators time. The heavy-duty impeller chops up materials into small pieces, creating a more efficient fill from left to right. This ensures the system collects as many clippings as possible, maximizing fill capacity. JOHN DEERE, 800.537.8233, WWW.JOHNDEERE.COM

Dog Park Tunnel The DOGIPARK® DOGITUNNEL is the perfect centerpiece for your dog park and one every dog owner will be excited to have their pups try out. The DOGITUNNEL is ideal for pet agility training and is great for dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. Visit DOGIPOT.com for more information and how to order. DOGIPOT, 800.364.7681, WWW.DOGIPOT.COM

Antistatic Playground Turf Playground Grass by ForeverLawn was awarded an industry-first patent for antistatic synthetic turf. The antistatic technology branded as XStatic™ is offered exclusively in Playground Grass Ultra by ForeverLawn. This proprietary technology dissipates static build-up, which can be a serious problem for children with electronic devices, such as cochlear implants. Ultra is available in eight stock colors to create inventive designs without costly charges or long wait times for custom runs. Playground Grass Ultra also offers AlphaSan® antimicrobial protection, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mildew and mold to provide a safer, better play environment for kids. FOREVERLAWN, 330.499.8873, WWW.PLAYGROUNDGRASS.COM

Splash Pad Play Feature The Mushroom Maze™ emits a crystal-clear sheet of water. Kids love to play inside the dome of water, which has a spread of 4–8 feet. The unit is 3 feet tall and made of stainless steel with low-profile rounded flanges that are easy on the feed and reduce the chance of toe-stubbing. Coated with Aqua Armor — the most durable chlorine, UV and vandal-resistant coating in the industry. The Mushroom Maze™ is terrific to incorporate with other spray features, making it perfect for renovations and upgrades. ADA and ASTM compliant. WATER ODDYSSEY, 512.392.1155, WWW.WATERODYSSEY.COM

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Parks & Recreation


park essentials

AmishGazebos.com Gazebos, Pergolas, & Pavilions

Geese Gone. Guaranteed. Maintenance-free and guaranteed to remove nuisance Canada Geese from all commercial property types, such as: • Ponds /Waterways • Rooftops /Buildings • Greenspaces/Lawns Proven and trusted by professionals for over a decade. The patented, flashing, solar powered light system is uniquely designed to disrupt geese and drive them away permanently!

No more geese, mess, or costly destruction …GUARANTEED! Water Unit Shown

Get your FREE 200-page catalog & price guide

VISIT WWW.AWAYWITHGEESE.COM / NRPA OR CALL 513.941.6730 to place an order or request a free placement study of your property.


s ice e Pr st rvic ers e e w Lo eat S stom Gr c Cu rrifi Te

Recycled site furnishings • park signs

Music Play That Moves You Foster social, emotional, and cognitive development with Burke’s New PlayEnsemble™ Collection BCIBURKE.COM Trademarks are the property of BCI Burke Company. BCI Burke Company 2019. All rights reserved.

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Bright Idea Shops, LLC Akron, Ohio 800-886-8990 fax 330-258-0167 www.brightideashops.com www.park-signs.net

M.S. in Administration in Recreation & Park Administration » Start now and earn your master’s

degree in two years or less

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PROVIDING A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT SHOULD BE A WALK IN THE PARK The DOGIPOT® line of products combines unparalleled convenience and superior durability to help you do the job you love better and ensure the perfect park experience whether on two legs or four.

Central Michigan University » 877-268-4636 » CMUglobal@cmich.edu » Global.cmich.edu/MSA CMU, an AA/EO institution, strongly and actively strives to increase diversity and provide equal opportunity for all individuals, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation and including but not limited to minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities. 3862960-10/19

Trash Liner Box 1404


Junior Bag Dispenser 1002-2


Roll Bag 1402


The Easiest Way To Build ! THANK YOSuUccNesRsfPA ul For a VERY NRPA Conference & 2019

Precast Concrete Buildings For All Your Park & Rec Needs VERSATILE • DURABLE • FAST • ECONOMICAL • SECURE Standard and custom plans, styles, colors, finishes • Sizes from 10’ x 12’ to 50’ x 250’ Pre-engineered, Pre-assembled, Pre-plumbed, Pre-wired • Minimal site preparation Outperforms all other materials • Resistant to rot, vandalism, fire, blast, and storms Installation in just hours • Available nationwide from a network of Licensed Producers Concessions • Dugouts • Electrical/Mechanical • Hazmat • Maintenance Sheds • Offices • Press Boxes Pump Houses • Restrooms • Locker Rooms • Field Houses • Security Shacks • Shelters • Storage & more!

Online Quote Form

EasiSetBuildings.com 866.252.8210

NRPA 1-2pg Oct-Nov-Dec 2019 7.625x4.75.indd 1

8/27/2019 4:56:33 PM W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 |

Parks & Recreation


park essentials


GymsForDogs.com sales@GymsForDogs.com 800-931-1562

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S TA I N L E S S S T E E L , E V E RY T I M E Build and quote your fountain online!


Outdoor Bottle Filler & Water Fountain CWBF-2-CHD







ADA Compliant

REVIT details available at our website. © 2019 Willoughby Industries Inc.

Aerospace quality TIG welded construction.

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

Our goals meet or exceeds ASTM F2056 and ASTM F2673

800.428.4065 | WilloughbyStainlessFountains.com

Gyms for Dogs/Livin the Dog Life......................................................... 62

Amish Country Gazebos.......................................................................... 60

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

Away with Geese...................................................................................... 60

Little Tikes Commercial.............................................................................. 7

BCI Burke Playgrounds............................................................................ 60

Miracle Recreation...................................................................................... 11

Bright Idea Shops, LLC ........................................................................... 60

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

Broyhill Company....................................................................................... 13

Pilot Rock/RJ Thomas Mfg. Co................................................................27

CMU................................................................................................................ 61


Columbia Cascade Company.................................................................. 25

Ropecamp.................................................................................................... 62

DOGIPOT......................................................................................................... 61

Salsbury Industries.....................................................................................9

Easi-Set Buildings...................................................................................... 61

Scoremaster Goals................................................................................... 63

ForeverLawn................................................................................................ 19

Shade Systems..............................................................................................1

Fountain People/Water Odyssey.......................................................... 23

Superior Recreational Products/PlayCore......................................... C4

Goldenteak/The Wood Carver, Inc. ...................................................... 62

Waterplay Solutions.................................................................................. 15

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

Willoughby Industries............................................................................. 63

advertiser index

AllChem......................................................................................................... 21

(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 ©2019 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.

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

Parks & Recreation


Park Bench


Sometimes, when we are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, simply finding a listening ear can help alleviate some of the overwhelming feelings. That’s why ThriveNYC (https://thrivenyc.cityofnewyork.us) has started a program, called the Friendship Bench, where individuals (called “peers”) invite anyone to sit down on a public bench to talk about whatever is weighing on their mind. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org/education/depression/statistics), nearly twothirds of people who experience depression do not seek or receive treatment. This is especially stunning when you learn that 80 percent of those who are treated for depression experience improvements in their symptoms. A number of factors play into this treatment gap, including access barriers and stigmatization, which can be especially prevalent among underserved communities. The friendship bench program (www.friendshipbenchzimbabwe.org) — which originated in Harare, Zimbabwe — aims to reduce the mental health treatment gap by bringing the remedy directly to the people through free programs at easy-to-reach sites, where individuals can talk openly with trained peers about what’s plaguing them to eliminate stress and begin to chip away at the stigma of talking about mental health. And, it works, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (https://tinyurl.com/y3e3k94g). While the peers stationed at the benches are not therapists, they are trained in counseling and serve as a gateway to help those who are suffering begin to find the help they need, many times leading them to professional services. Providing programs geared toward mental health issues is important on many levels — after all, mental illness is not only an individual issue, but also a public health issue. Therefore, the hope is that the Zimbabwe and ThriveNYC programs serve as a model for any community that hopes to facilitate authentic discussions around the topic and destigmatize mental illness from the ground up. – Lindsay Collins, Associate Editor for Parks & Recreation magazine

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Friendship Bench

GET RECOGNITION for Being the Best of the Best in Parks and Recreation NRPA Innovation Awards Honors agencies improving their communities in inspirational ways. NRPA Spotlight Awards Honors individuals for their commitment to the field. NRPA Scholarships & Fellowships Honors up-and-coming professionals and awards access to the NRPA Annual Conference.

Applications open January 6, 2020

Apply at nrpa.org/Awards

Create a complete outdoor environment for your community with Superior Playgrounds, Shade, Shelter, and Site Amenities. Discover how easy it is to furnish your whole park by viewing our collection of products at superiorrecreationalproducts.com

play. relax. live. | 866.324.4522


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Parks & Recreation Magazine - December 2019  

Parks & Recreation Magazine - December 2019  

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