Category Archives: Parks

National Parks Have A Long To-Do List But Can’t Cover The Repair Costs

Source: Nathan Rott, NPR, Morning Edition, March 8, 2016

…..Joshua Tree National Park, like most of the 409 areas managed by the National Park Service, gets the bulk of its money from Congress. It’s appropriated year by year, and in recent years usually comes to about $3 billion annually. Entrance fees, philanthropy and concession sales bring in more money to the park system, but National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis says it’s not enough. That much money may have covered the tab for the park system years ago, but not anymore.

When the money’s tight, some jobs don’t get done — and those jobs start to pile up. Today, the total backlog of needed maintenance at U.S. national parks is $11.9 billion. That backlog includes $500 million in needed repairs at Yosemite National Park, $100 million of which is considered critical. Grand Canyon National Park needs $330 million, due largely to outstanding wastewater and water system upgrades. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which saw a record 15 million visitors last year, needs $478 million to help address the wear and tear from all of those drivers…….

The big backswing: How are cities and counties dealing with underutilized golf courses

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, October 5, 2015

America’s love affair with the links might be over, but what does that mean for the thousands of vacated courses scattered across the country?

Golf’s popularity has been on the decline for years, according to several industry studies. Once ubiquitous in America’s cities and suburbs, golf courses are shuttering rapidly as generational tastes and lifestyles evolve. So what should cities do with these underperforming, underutilized properties?….

Investigation of Air Quality Problems in an Indoor Swimming Pool: A Case Study

Source: Benoit Lévesque, Lorraine Vézina, Denis Gauvin and Patrice Leroux, The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Advance Access, First published online: June 19, 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction: Trichloramine (NCl3) is the contaminant suspected the most to cause irritative respiratory symptoms among swimmers and swimming pool workers. Following complaints by employees working in an indoor swimming pool, this study set out to identify the determinants of NCl3 air concentrations in that particular swimming pool.

Methods: To document NCl3 air levels, air samples were collected once or twice a day for 3h, at least 3 days per week, between October and December 2011. Water samples were taken three times during air sampling to verify free chlorine, chloramines, alkalinity, conductivity, pH, water temperature, and turbidity. Water changes were also recorded, along with the number of bathers. Ventilation (outdoor air flow) was modified to verify the influence of this important variable. Data were evaluated by analysis of variance.

Results: Mean NCl3 air concentration was 0.38mg m−3. The best model explaining variations of NCl3 air levels (r 2 = 0.83) included sampling period (P = 0.002, NCl3 was higher in the evening versus the morning), water changes (P = 0.02, NCl3 was lower with water changes between 60 and 90min day−1 versus <60min day−1), and ventilation (P = 0.0002, NCl3 was lower with ≥2 air changes per hour (ACH) versus <1 ACH). Discussion and conclusion: Although based on only 26 air samples, our results indicate that ventilation is an important determinant of NCl3 air concentration in swimming pool air. There is limited information available on the air quality of indoor swimming pools and the relationship with ventilation. Efforts are needed to document the situation and to develop state-of-the-art facilities for ventilation of indoor swimming pools.

Introduction to the Special Issue: Human Resource Management in Parks and Recreation

Source: Michael Mulvaney, Amy Hurd, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, Vol. 33 No. 1, 2015

From the abstract:
Arguably the most critical asset for park and recreation agencies is human resources. Generally representing more than 60% of park and recreation agencies’ yearly operating budget, human resources put the material resources (i.e., financial and physical) into use and convert them into recreation programs and services (Bartlett & McKinney, 2004). Park and recreation professionals guide and shape their agencies and communities in many ways, including the creation and implementation of new ideas and strategies; innovative programs, parks, and facilities; internal and external relations; decision-making and problem solving; and overall leadership. Simply put, human resources are the primary drivers of the success and, at times, challenges for park and recreation agencies.

Articles include:
Managers’ Perceptions of Entry-Level Job Competencies When Making Hiring Decisions for Municipal Recreation Agencies
Keith Fulthorp, Melissa H. D’Eloia

Exploratory Research on Changing Times Affecting Human Resource Management, Perceptions, and Professional Norms of Tennessee Park Rangers
April Varn Welch, Pat Stephens Williams, Ray Darville, Philip Smartt, Matthew McBroom

Professional Certifications and Job Self-Efficacy of Public Park and Recreation Professionals
Michael A. Mulvaney, Brent A. Beggs, Daniel J. Elkins, Amy R. Hurd

The ‘G’ Word: A Special Series on Gentrification

Source: Governing, Vol. 28 no. 5, February 2015

Gentrification has accelerated in recent years, creating challenges for local leaders for years to come. …. What follows is stories that have appeared both on the web and in the print magazine exploring this issue as well as interactive maps and data tracking gentrification.

Read Governing’s national report examining gentrification in the 50 largest cities. ….

Article include:
What, Exactly, Is Gentrification?
It’s hard to define, but it’s dramatically changing the urban landscape and bringing a host of new challenges to local leaders.

Gentrification’s Not So Black and White After All
Despite complaints about well-educated white people buying up houses in low-income minority neighborhoods, recent studies show that gentrification often helps the original residents.

How D.C.’s Affordable Housing Protections Are Losing a War with Economics
In the fastest-gentrifying neighborhood in the country, some of the nation’s strongest affordable housing protections haven’t been enough to keep lower-income residents from being priced out of their homes.

The Downsides of a Neighborhood ‘Turnaround’
A former D.C. housing official gives a hard look at what worked, and what didn’t, in an award-winning redevelopment project.

Suburbs Struggle to Aid the Sprawling Poor
Poverty in suburbs now outnumbers poverty in cities, a shift that’s put a major strain on public services and is easily visible in Austin, Texas.

Some Cities Are Spurring the End of Sprawl
A new report claims there’s an historic shift in suburbs from being car-dependent to walkable places, blurring the lines between “urban” and “suburban.”

Do Cities Need Kids?
Seattle is one place trying to figure that out.

Keeping Cities from Becoming “Child-Free Zones”
With kids on the decline in urban areas, cities can make themselves more attractive to young families by building more playgrounds.

The Neighborhood Has Gentrified, But Where’s the Grocery Store?
In many gentrifying neighborhoods, attracting new residents and restaurants is the easy part. Finding the right mix of retail is much harder.

From Vacant to Vibrant: Cincinnati’s Urban Transformation
How a lot of money and a little luck brought one of the nation’s most dangerous neighborhoods back to life.

Just Green Enough
Sprucing up a park can spur unintended gentrification. Is there a way to green a neighborhood without displacing its residents?

Can Cities Change the Face of Biking?
There’s a growing trend of teaching young people (especially those from demographic groups that historically haven’t embraced biking) how to repair and ride bikes.

Annual Information Exchange – Statistical Report of State Park Operations

Source: National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) and North Carolina State University, 2014

The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) Annual Information Exchange (AIX) survey, hosted by North Carolina State University, gathers information about inventory, facilities, visitation, expenses, financing and personnel for all state park units in the USA….
2014 Outlook and Analysis Letter
Source: Jordan W. Smith and Yu-Fai Leung, North Carolina State University, 2014

This year’s Outlook and Analysis Letter updates and extends the analyses we completed in 2013. For the 2013 Outlook and Analysis Letter, we measured the technical efficiencies of the states’ park systems following a methodology designed for evaluating the effectiveness of government agencies in providing public services (Chambers 1988). This year, we repeat our production analyses with the updated data provided by the states’ park systems for 2013. We also extend our analyses by estimating the effects of a federal climate change mitigation policy on the provision of outdoor recreation opportunities offered by the states’ park systems. Many federal agencies, as well as the Office of the President, are actively pushing for regulations that both cap states’ allowable emissions of greenhouse gasses and establish an open trading market (National Research Council 2011). These federal climate change mitigation policies will have variable impacts on individual states depending upon those states’ emission levels and sources. Our analyses examine the likely consequences, experienced state-by-state, of a federal emission reductions policy. The findings are intended to inform the National Association of State Park Directors and individual state park system operators in planning for global environmental change and related federal policies. The 2014 Outlook and Analysis Letter begins, as usual, with an analysis and description of long-term and recent trends. We then move into our updated analyses of the state park systems’ efficiency in providing outdoor recreation opportunities to the public. We conclude with our new analyses of the effects of a federal climate change mitigation policy on the provision of outdoor recreation opportunities offered by the states’ park systems.

Dissolving the Greenville County Recreation District: Creating a Plan for Intergovernmental Cooperation in Greenville County

Source: Robert J Barcelona, Robert S. Brookover, Marcus E. Smith, Ty P. Houck, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, Vol. 32 No. 4, 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In July 2013, the Greenville County (SC) Recreation District (GCRD), a special purpose district founded in 1968, was dissolved by the South Carolina State Legislature, and a new Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (GCPRT) was created as part of Greenville County government. According to the County, the reasons for the dissolution of the special district were twofold: 1) increased operating costs associated with new capital construction projects initiated by GCRD, and 2) a loss of tax revenue due to annexation of GCRD property by cities located within the District. Annexation was a problem because four of the six largest cities in Greenville County opted out of the recreation district when it was created, and instead chose to fund and support their own local parks and recreation departments. By opting out, city residents were exempt from paying the 4.6 mills of property tax that GCRD collected from special district residents. When GCRD was dissolved and reconstituted as a new county department, Greenville County council and administrators decided to levy the 4.6 mills on city residents to help provide additional funding for county parks, recreation, and tourism services. The affected cities raised concerns with this new arrangement, and several kept the doors open to legal action, as they believed they were being subjected to double taxation. This case places the reader in the role of a management consultant hired by Greenville County to develop a set of recommendations for managing the reorganization process, including developing a spending plan for the new undedicated revenue, providing suggestions for repairing relationships and rebuilding trust with the cities, and creating a plan to communicate the potential value of the new structure to the citizens of Greenville County.

New Report Shows National Parks Remain Strong Economic Engines, Support 243,000 Jobs Nationwide

Source: National Park Service, Press Release, March 3, 2014

Boosted by an additional 4 million visitors in 2012, national parks across the country continued to be important economic engines, generating $26.75 billion in economic activity and supporting 243,000 jobs, according to a peer-reviewed report released today by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis…. More than 200,000 of the jobs supported by national parks in 2012 were in local neighboring communities. These range from big parks like the Grand Canyon, which attracted 4.4 million visitors and supported 6,000 jobs, to smaller parks like the Lincoln Boyhood Home, which had 133,000 visitors and supported 93 jobs in local communities…. Jewell and Jarvis today also announced estimates of the government shutdown’s impacts on national park gateway economies. Overall, the16-day shutdown resulted in 7.88 million fewer national park visitors in October 2013 compared to a three-year average (October 2010-12), and an estimated loss of $414 million in visitor spending in gateway and local communities across the country when comparing October 2013 to a three-year average (October 2010-12). These losses are part of an economic analysis of the shutdown’s effects on parks and neighboring communities that was released today. While the shutdown figures do not affect the 2012 economics report, they will weigh on the 2013 economics report due out later this year….

Fee Increases at City Athletic Facilities Garner Less Revenue, Larger Decline in Use Than Expected

Source: Rachel Berkson, New York City Independent Budget Office, Fiscal Brief, September 2013

From the summary:
In November 2010, the Bloomberg Administration announced that the cost of using a variety of city-operated athletic facilities would be rising. Fees for playing tennis on city courts, memberships at city-run recreation centers, and permits for using city ballfields would all be rising over the coming months. Together, these price increases—the second set of increases since 2002—were expected to generate $6.3 million in additional revenue in fiscal year 2012. In fact, revenue grew by just $1.1 million—a fraction of what had been expected.

The failure to achieve the expected revenue gains was the result of a greater-than-projected fall-off in the number of permits sold for tennis and memberships for recreation centers following the price rise. IBO has examined data on the sale of permits and memberships before and after the latest fee increases, along with revenue from related sources such as reservation fees, at the affected athletic facilities. Among our findings:

• With considerably higher fees at the start of the 2011 tennis season, the number of adult seasonal tennis permits sold by the city fell from 12,774 in 2010 to 7,265 in 2012, a decline of 43 percent. Single-play permits fell 46 percent, from 23,512 to 12,755 over the same period.

• Despite the decline in the number of adult permits sold, there was an increase in revenue because fees doubled for these permits. The city collected a total of $2.1 million from the sale of adult, junior, and senior tennis permits in 2012, but the revenue fell $1.3 million short of the projected increase.

• The number of recreation center memberships sold in 2012 declined by 52 percent to 46,047 with the doubling of membership fees for adults and seniors at the start of the fiscal year.

• With the decline in memberships, recreation center revenue remained flat in 2012 at $4.8 million, about $4.0 million below the Bloomberg Administration’s expectations.

• Although the number of permits sold for ballfields also fell in 2012 in response to the rise in fees, the resulting increase in revenue exceeded expectations by nearly 5 percent.

Park Rangers Call For Safety Improvements

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Press Release, July 31, 2013

The U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police today called for implementation of a five-point plan to improve the safety of visitors, park rangers and special agents in our national parks. The plan was developed partly in reaction to a recent report by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) showing a spike in attacks on park rangers and other federal land management employees….In the eyes of the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, support, training and management attention to law enforcement needs within national parks are all on the decline. To reverse this trend, they are putting forward a five-point plan to increase both ranger and visitor safety, including:
– Meeting minimum staff levels recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police;
– Upgraded training for and screening of new officers; and
– Distinctive marking for patrol cars so that visitors can more easily and quickly summon law enforcement assistance.
Read details of the Rangers five-point plan
Look at PEER report on threats and attacks