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Parks & Recreation Industry Trends

Parks & Recreation Industry Trends

March 12, 2019

Are you looking for new ways to spruce up your park? We’ve gathered some interesting industry trends worth a second look that may be easier than you thought to incorporate.

New Water Amenities

Parks and recreation facilities are updating their current pools and incorporating water playgrounds and splashpads as a multiuse amenity. They provide temporary relief from extreme temperatures during the summer months by allowing residents a place to congregate and cool off without being fully submerged. Water playgrounds are said to be more accessible (most are ADA accessible), require less supervision, and are thought to reduce the risk of drowning since there is usually very little standing water. In urban areas such as Denver, water play areas are being designed as mixed use, whereas they can be used as decorative water sculptures and artistic features during the offseason. Then there’s the water conservation from splashpads and not to mention, lower installation and maintenance costs.

Innovative Dog Amenities

Dog washing stations have emerged as a standout addition at parks and multifamily communities around the country. They provide incredible convenience for pet owners by allowing them to clean their pets without the hassle of pipes clogged with dog hair, and anxious pets tracking water through the home. Most washing stations are ergonomically designed to provide comfort for both the pets and their owners, and with approximately 68 percent of American households having one or more pets, there’s a good chance this will help attract more park visitors.

Dog runs and off-leash play areas also provide tremendous benefits to your park. They provide a safe space for pets and pet owners to socialize and are an added benefit in dense urban areas where private greenspace is at a minimum.

Gender Neutral Facilities and Programming

Numerous park and recreation centers are transitioning or considering a transition to gender neutral restrooms and changing areas. Many individuals who identify as transgender, gender fluid or nonbinary have historically felt uncomfortable or even excluded at public parks and recreation centers. Gender neutral facilities also provide parents with a child of the opposite sex an opportunity to use the same restroom facility, which some parents have indicated make them feel more comfortable when out in public.

Many public recreation centers are also updating their policies around gender specific classes and programming, and instead removing gender from program descriptions altogether.

Technology in Parks & Recreation Centers

Technology abounds, and the local park should be no exception. Parks and recreation centers are offering free Wi-Fi, which is not only a nice-to-have, but a real necessity for people in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Public internet service is also an invaluable resource in the event of an emergency. Smart park benches can pull triple duty as Wi-Fi hubs, charging stations and weather sensors. As an added benefit, the data collected from internet sessions can be used to study consumer behavior.

Parks are also utilizing mobile apps, allowing patrons to keep track of classes, program scheduling, park closures and other relevant updates. For savvy managers, there’s even an opportunity to include advertisements from nearby businesses to offer complimentary services and offset the cost of maintaining the app.

Smart restrooms are functional for high occupancy parks and those used as rest stops. The sensors identify when stalls are available, when maintenance is required and the location of accessible restrooms.