The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

A Playground for (All) the Ages !

Recreation Management Magazine – 

A Playground for (All) the Ages !

By Jessica Royer Ocken

   These days, many of us are living longer. And longer lives means more seniors to serve in our communities, and a broader range of active ages and interests and abilities to engage. To this end, the most innovative communities are not just adding facilities for older adults, they’re thinking critically about how to serve the spectrum of their populations together. Perhaps you’ve seen the news reports about communities that have put childcare centers under the same roof with nursing homes—and reaped tremendous benefits, enhancing the lives of both groups.

“The idea is to create and sustain public spaces that are free and available to people of all ages and abilities, and to promote healthy, active recreation,” said Tracy McGinnis, director of philanthropy for Southminster retirement community in Charlotte, N.C. Southminster recently partnered with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation and funded an all-ages playground, which is located near both a community recreation center and a senior center.

   “There is evidence-based research that speaks to the benefits of intergenerational activity and programming,” McGinnis explained. “Our communities will continue to see their youngest and oldest populations grow over the coming years, and we need to identify community partners to work with and continue creating innovative spaces for all.”

Nursing home-childcare combos might be one way to do this, but another great way (that’s more in our area of focus) is multigenerational playgrounds. Since Southminster helped create the playground at Marion Diehl Park, there’s been “unprecedented activity” there, McGinnis said. Senior adults, families and children are playing at all times of the day and all days of the week. Sound like something your community could benefit from? Read on to learn more!

What Is a Multigenerational Playground ?

The simplest explanation of multigenerational playgrounds is that instead of focusing exclusively on children (though they are tremendously important!), these playgrounds broaden their scope to include equipment, activities and amenities for those older than age 12—and perhaps significantly older—so that anyone who visits the playground, regardless of age or ability, can find something there they enjoy. This is no small feat, and requires some planning and consideration, but there are a variety of ways to achieve excellent results.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY PARKS FOUNDATION

One possibility for setting up a multigenerational playground is to offer assorted equipment geared toward a variety of ages and abilities. Traditional playground equipment is already designed for specific children’s age groups, and to engage children with a variety of different abilities, so it’s just the adults that may require some extra thought. However, more and more types of outdoor fitness equipment are available to choose from, and many companies have realized that adults like to play, too, so there are activity stations available that provide a workout as well as opportunities for socialization and fun. Many communities report positive feedback from outdoor fitness stations set up along a walking/running path that encircles a playground for kids. That way parents can exercise or stroll and children can play while everyone keeps an eye on each other and spends time together.

“More than ever, we are seeking to involve kids, parents and grandparents in outdoor healthy activities,” noted Helle Burlingame, director of a Denmark-based play equipment manufacturer’s Play Institute. “Fitness equipment in close proximity to play spaces is an ideal way for parents or grandparents to work out close to their kids at play, [and it’s] a great way for adults to role-model healthy behaviors.”

   Another way to achieve multigenerational appeal is to add an innovative playground for children to a larger complex that already caters to youth and adults with amenities like sports fields and courts or outdoor trails. This type of project is currently nearing completion in Winter Park, Colo., at the Fraser Valley Sports Complex. Between the ice rink, community garden, pond, baseball and soccer fields, and hot air balloon rides, the complex already has around 75,000 visitors a year, reported Scott Ledin, parks and recreation director for Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District. When its reimagined, updated and expanded playground opens later this spring, there will truly be “a little something for everyone,” he said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF KOMPAN

It may also help to think beyond the boundaries of the playground itself. Although their primary focus is not creating multigenerational playgrounds, People Make Parks—a collaborative group in New York City—often achieves this because they strive to consider the needs and interests of everyone in the community where the new park will be located. “In urban areas where natural green spaces are limited and few residents have private back yards of their own, public parks and open spaces play a crucial role,” noted Kate Nemetz of the City Parks Foundation, one of the organizations involved with People Make Parks. “The key then is to create parks that are inviting, accessible and useful for as many people as possible.”

   Whether they’re walking their dogs, doing tai chi, having movie night or playing a pickup game of some variety, New Yorkers of all ages know how to get the most out of their parks, which make them a great example for the rest of us. “People Make Parks helps foster this [collective use] by providing channels for individuals and community groups to inform the designs of their local parks and playgrounds to reflect their needs,” Nemetz explained.

How to Get Everyone Out There

   Whether adding outdoor fitness equipment to an existing playground or bringing outdoor play options for kids to a community complex seems a better fit for you, the following tips and suggestions from parks experts and communities already enjoying multigenerational parks and playgrounds will help you refine your plans and get the process under way:

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF LITTLE TIKES

Create strategic partnerships:

Serving a wide spectrum of people is a great opportunity for collaboration, so look for ways to join forces with other groups in your community. Southminster and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation have accomplished a lot more together than they would have separately in Charlotte, N.C. And in Labelle, Fla., the committee formed to fund-raise for Zachary Reyna Park included city and county grant-writing specialists, civic and philanthropic leaders, and friends of the Reyna family, whose son Zach is the park’s namesake. Together with local businesses, this group pooled their efforts and have funded their playground entirely through donations and volunteer hours, reports Ramiro Rodriguez, Hendry LaBelle recreation director.

Get the community involved:

A companion to the previous thought, getting as many of your constituents informed and excited and contributing to your playground project along the way will pay off big in the end. Labelle, Fla., relied not just on the playground committee, but asked everyone in the community to contribute ideas, and local school children raised money to honor the memory of their friend. “Zach could really bring people together, and I don’t think they’d ever come together like they did when he was sick,” said Marlena Lopez of the Hendry LaBelle Recreation Department. A small town, Labelle doesn’t have movie theaters or bowling alleys. “We have parks and grass,” she said. And the work they did together on their award-winning multigenerational playground gives the place special meaning.

 Although it can be challenging to bring together the disparate, and perhaps even competing, interests of many different potential playground users, it’s an important process “so the end result is as inclusive as possible, and everyone feels like their voice was heard,” said People Make Parks’ Nemetz. The results, such as the Hester Street Playground in New York’s Chinatown, are steeped in local culture, beloved, and well-used by people of all ages and interests.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF GAMETIME

Offer shade and seating—and more:

Lofty ideals aside, there are also practical components that will make your goal of all ages engaged and enjoying more feasible. The longer people stay in a playground or park space, the better chance there is for interaction, so include some comfort amenities to make your park a pleasant spot. “We will have benches around the playground and shade structures for parents or grandparents to sit and relax while kids are playing,” noted Fraser Valley’s Ledin.

Adding an exercise element for adults may make them even more likely to bring the whole family and stay a while. With the exercise equipment included at Labelle’s Zachary Reyna Park, “adults can enjoy themselves so kids can stay longer at the playground. Even grandparents are coming out to enjoy it,” Rodriguez said. He also notes that they positioned the playground beneath a natural shade canopy of trees, and they plan to get shade coverings for the exercise equipment as well.

   After seeing the success of the Marion Diehl Playground, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation plans to incorporate more “fit zones” with outdoor fitness equipment into other parks in the community, said Division Director Terri Stowers, upping their multigenerational appeal. And Ledin noted that the town of Winter Park, Colo., added outdoor exercise stations along a linear recreation path a couple of years ago and has received positive feedback. “We’re an active community… with an even-more-active-than-average senior population, so we’re always trying to find something for all ages,” he said.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF BURKE PLAYGROUNDS

Include an educational component: Physical challenge isn’t the only way your playground can connect with its users. Including educational elements that exercise the brain and provide a chance for visitors to learn something new or see their community’s history celebrated can be a great way to make your play space more interesting to a variety of ages, more connected to the community, and just a little different than the other places to play in the area. History to explore, games to play, and signs to read are also activities that young and old can do together, enhancing the experience of both.

To this end, the Fraser Valley Sports Complex playground features play pieces shaped like a stagecoach, a mill, Native American teepees, and a replica of the Fraser Mercantile Building, which has stood in town for 100 years. Each of these celebrates a part of Fraser Valley’s history, and four signs installed on the playground will offer historical information to visitors.

 Marion Diehl playground includes a fairytale structure that speaks to those playing on it in a variety of languages, providing a way for kids, caregivers and teachers to play and learn together, noted Southminster’s McGinnis.

Design for all abilities, as well as all ages: Creating inclusive spaces is another essential for bringing communities together, so be sure you consider the range of abilities among your constituents, as well as the range of ages. Southminster worked with UNC Charlotte’s Department of Gerontology and Kinesiology to identify the best types of equipment for assorted ages and abilities, as well as create programming and research long-term for the project, McGinnis explained. They also made sure the path around the play area is accessible to those with physical disabilities.

 And in Milwaukee, Wis., the Miracle League of Milwaukee facility includes not only an accessible baseball field but an inclusive playground, both designed to accommodate those in wheelchairs. This makes their facility not just multigenerational but broadly inclusive as well.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LANDSCAPE STRUCTURES INC.

Remember that adults like to play, too: “I’m 58, but I still act like a kid,” said Hendry Labelle’s Rodriguez. “I want to be out there playing.” So when they started talking about designing a playground, he made sure it would be fun for “age 2 to 102,” he explained. Often the solution for including adults is outdoor exercise equipment, but older playground visitors may want to enjoy the play features as well. “Swings, zip lines, large climbing nets and slides can be great options for adults,” Burlingame said. Ball courts are also likely to be appreciated by all ages.

 If you plan to invite those over age 12, though, make sure the play equipment you choose is safety-rated for bigger, heavier bodies and perhaps adjusted for their comfort. Flat-seated swings or even porch swing-style gliders may be easier and more pleasant for adults and seniors to use.

Something for Everyone

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUPERIOR RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS

However you decide to approach your project—from the ground up or by adding features to existing parks and play spaces—know that expanding the appeal and inclusiveness of your playgrounds has a wealth of benefits. And as long as you engage the community and plan wisely, there are no real downsides.

 “When people of all ages can come together in a park or playground, the foundation is set for these spaces to become safe sites of community building, cultural exchange and civic engage ment,” said People Make Parks’ Nemetz. The more citizens enjoy their parks and playgrounds, the more invested in them they become, making them more likely to take good care of them over the long term.

And by providing a place where kids, adults and seniors can be active and healthy together, you’ll be caring for your community over the long term as well.

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Bay County commissioners approve final land-use development plan for new Multi-Sports Sportspark !

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. – Tuesday, Bay County commissioners gave the green light regarding the final land-use and zoning plan for the new sports park development.

The project, which will be developed on 1,250 acres of land, is located between Wildwood Road and Breakfast Point Boulevard in Panama City Beach.

Both the state and Bay County commissioners approved the plan that will allow the St. Joe Company to develop more than 800 acres of land into dozens of residential and multi-family units, as well as retail space.

Plans for the development also include office spaces, new elementary schools and a possible fire station.

“It’s going to be a very positive thing for Bay County,” said Bill Dozier, a Bay County commissioner. “I believe years from now, looking back we’re going to be glad we did this and glad that everything as it unfolds will be a huge success I believe.”

As of now it appears that only one area will be the access point to the development. Officials say that will soon change they’re looking into areas of where to put other ones.

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Sports park opens in Mesa, AZ. in partnership with Cubs !

Sports park opens in Mesa, AZ. in partnership with Cubs !

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Mesa’s Fiesta Sports Park opens at 936 S. Extension Road.

The park includes four new ballfields for youth baseball and softball and a multi-use field with bleachers and Chicago Cubs-branded signage and scoreboard.

The four ballfields are named after Cubs Hall of Fame players: Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. The Chicago Cubs Charities and the Mesa Hohokam Foundation donated $100,000 to sponsor Fiesta Sports Park.

Fiesta Sports Park is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. For more information, visit mesaaz.gov/parksrec.

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Good times in store for Sports Park In Amesbury !

Snow_Tubbing

AMESBURY, MA. — New England Sports Park director of operations Tim Mack can make all the snow he wants, but he knows, unless there’s snow in people’s yards, they never think to go snow tubing on his 750-foot hill.

Thanks to a seasonably cold winter which has produced just enough snow for people to get into the mood, Mack said he has been hosting almost 1,200 snow tubers a day for the past week.

“It is a huge deal for us to be open for Christmas vacation,” Mack said. “It’s the first time in, I believe, three or four years that we have.”

A Groveland native, Mack opened the Sports Park on Dec. 22 and demand has been keeping his 40-member crew busy enough to keep the snow tubing operation going until mid-March.

But with a $30 million ice hockey facility scheduled to be built just behind the sports park by Global Property Developers Corp., both Mack and park supervisor Ryan Collins know the good times on South Hunt Road may just be beginning.

“That’s only going to help,” Mack said. “Because once they are done playing hockey, they are going to want to find something to do.”

An Amesbury native himself, Collins grew up playing hockey from Mites all the way to college and is excited about the prospect of six NHL-sized ice rinks coming to his hometown.

“We have a brand-new hotel now, we are going to have a brand new rink with six rinks and there are going to be tournaments for days there,” Collins said. “What are they going to want to do in between games? What are they going to do with the rest of the family? (They will say) ‘Hey, there is a snow tubing park next door. We can do that.’ I think it will absolutely help us, especially with the big tournaments.”

Collins frequented New England Sports Center in Marlborough when he was growing up. Although the Marlborough facility also has six rinks, he thinks there are very few places that can match the 300,000-square-foot complex coming to Amesbury.

“When I played (in Marlborough) they only had four rinks and I would play in tournaments all of the time,” Collins said. “When you are done with the tournament, there is nothing to do. There is a mall there, but that’s it.”

Having overseen the New England Sports Park’s snow tubing for the past eight years, Mack spoke from experience when he said that sitting between I-495 and I-95, South Hunt Road can draw a crowd.

“People come from Connecticut and Rhode Island,” Mack said. “We get phone calls every morning, they are going to be driving two hours and they want to make sure that we are open.”

Initially owned by former Boston Bruins defenseman Brad Park and Ted Dipple, what was known as the Amesbury Sports Park began as a golf driving range in the summer and a snow tubing hill in the winter in the early 1990s.

Dipple leases the park’s hill each winter from current owner Seacoast United. With eight snow guns going for 60 hours straight to start each season, Mack said it makes quite a sight for drivers on I-495.

“Everyone just slows down to look at it,” Mack said. “The people who drive by on 495 can see that we are making snow but the people who don’t are always calling to see if we have snow.”

With the park only able to operate for a little under a month during last year’s mild winter, both Mack and Collins said they are happy to very busy this winter.

“We’re doing awesome,” Mack said. “Too many people say that they love their job, but I love my job.”

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BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! (Dec.)

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Dec. 27, 2016       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

When you’re getting ready to create your foul lines your first task sounds a little more like you’re going bowling. You start by setting the pins. Only these pins are ones you set in the ground to add your stringline for chalking. The pins should be set according to how you apply the chalk or paint. For example, if you have your chalker setup to guide on the outside edge, the anchor pins for your stringlines should be located on the foul edge of the foul line… Click here to continue learning about this topic at the Groundskeeper U lesson, Setting Up Your String Lines 

Remember to visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles and GroundskeeperU.com for online training.

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It’s strong, but still stretchy enough to really snap a straight line. The 500 ft of high-strength, braided cotton string line is thicker for higher visibility and will stretch. Exclusive Pro Cord String Winder: use pro10 during checkout (offer valid thru Jan. 2).

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Beacon Triple Play Batter’s Box Template 10% OFF

All of your batter’s box sizes in one template. This batter’s box template is a big time saver and makes sure your batter’s box is always accurately aligned with home plate. Exclusive Beacon Triple Play Batter’s Box Template: use trip10 during checkout (offer valid thru Jan. 2).

 

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FEATURED OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

Returned item! — 26’D Red Weighted Tarp ONLY ONE!   Returned due to being the wrong color. Want a red tarp? Great value here. Heavyweight 18oz tarp, HS-College-Pro home plate size with weighted hem (26’D). No need for bags, pins, or weights. Brand-new condition. 26’D Red Weighted Tarp

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Visit the NEW GROUNDSKEEPER U!

COMPLETELY FREE & MOBILE FRIENDLY. We’ve relaunched the web’s premier online field maintenance training tool, Groundskeeper University. Our goal is to bring professional training directly to you and your staff. But that means it has to be done right. Learn the tried & true practices of the pros. Our dedicated online resources by groundskeepers for groundskeepers are available in whichever format works for you: blog articles, online field dimensions, innovative products and training at Groundskeeper U. Whatever you need for your ballfield, think Beacon. Visit Groundskeeper U!

Visit the NEW GROUNDSKEEPER U!

COMPLETELY FREE & MOBILE FRIENDLY. We’ve relaunched the web’s premier online field maintenance training tool, Groundskeeper University. Our goal is to bring professional training directly to you and your staff. But that means it has to be done right. Learn the tried & true practices of the pros. Our dedicated online resources by groundskeepers for groundskeepers are available in whichever format works for you: blog articles, online field dimensions, innovative products and training at Groundskeeper U. Whatever you need for your ballfield, think Beacon. Visit Groundskeeper U!

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A local winter sports park is attracting many people despite warm temperatures !

Snow_Tubbing

Snowstar winter sports park gives some kids some excitement after Christmas.

It may be much warmer than normal in December, but it did not stop people from heading to Snowstar Winter Sports Park in Andalusia, IL. Monday. People enjoyed a variety of winter activities at the park, including skiing, snow boarding and tubing. The park just opened for the season a few weeks ago, which is a much earlier start than last year. 

 Staff at Snowstar said 19 degrees seems to be the magical number when is comes to making their snow, but warmer temperatures are attracting more people.They call it “spring skiing”; the snow is a little slushy and soft but people are still making the best of it.

 “I’d like to describe this as spring skiing, it’s a little bit warm, it’s a little slushy, the snow is kind of soft but they’re out here still making the best of it; so we’re all having fun,” said general manager Dan McCanna.

 General manager Dan McCanna said it’s nice to see the park making a contribution to many people’s holiday gifts as well. 

“A lot of people get ski gear and boarding gear for Christmas. We have a lot of regulars I’ve seen here today with new gear on, so it’s nice to see that they’re out sporting the new that they’ve got,” McCanna said.

 It may be the holiday season, but people are finding more ways than one to have fun this year.

 “Skiing has always been something I’ve loved to do and it’s always been kind of a passion of mine. I’ve been at college and I haven’t found a lot of time to come out and be able to do what I love to do. This has been one of the first chances I’ve had, and I really wanted to take advantage of it in this beautiful weather we have today with it being so warm,” said skier Logan Nelson.

 Nelson said the warm weather actually makes it easier to ride the slopes.

 “It’s just a lot easier to be more comfortable, you have to wear less layers, you don’t feel like you’re freezing the entire time. You can have more fun and feel alittle more natural, rather than all bulked up and stiff because you’re wearing so many different layers,” said Nelson. 

 Snowstar staff said they try their best to groom the snow and keep the slopes user friendly. They hope to continue attracting people despite fluctuating weather conditions.

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Aging Sportspark on Tucson’s NW side to get $1M in repairs !

Multi_sports_complex_1   Though fears and rumors of a shutdown had been circulating, ( see previous SODA article in BLOG ), the Mike Jacob Sportspark on the northwest side could see up to $1 million in repairs to the aging facility in the near future.

   That’s part of a deal that was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. The money would come from county right-of-ways sold to the Arizona Department of Transportation, not out of the general fund.

   The deal also calls for switching to a month-to-month lease arrangement for up to six months with Championship Sports, which handles sports leagues and tournaments, as well as some maintenance. In the interim, the county would put out a request for proposals seeking a single operator to run the entire operation, as opposed to the current three.

   Lou Ciurca, Championship’s CEO, said a month-to-month arrangement is unworkable for sports leagues and tournament planning, adding that the facility “is going to have to shut down” as a result.

   “That just shows (the board’s) ignorance, their lack of understanding of how this facility works was shown today,” he said of the vote. The park is at the corner of Ina Road and Interstate 10 and includes softball fields, a soccer field, volleyball courts and concession stands.

   Championship’s attorney Edward Laber said the company would like to work “together with the county” to come up with an arrangement that works for all parties.

   In a recent report, the county parks and recreation department raised a number of safety concerns about the facility, which has not seen much re investment over the last three decades. Recently, metal roofing blew off, safety netting poles snapped and fell onto a volleyball court and electrical issues nearly led to a fire.

   “Our view is that we have some significant exposure in regard to potential safety issues,” County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the board before the vote.

screenshot-2016-12-13-11-02-52Save Mike Jacobs Sport Park !

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Sportspark opens in Mesa, AZ in partnership with Chicago Cubs !

Qualite  Sportspark opens in Mesa, AZ  in partnership with Chicago Cubs
Mesa’s Fiesta Sports Park opens at 936 S. Extension Road.

   The park includes four new ballfields for youth baseball and softball and a multi-use field with bleachers and Chicago Cubs-branded signage and scoreboard.

   The four ballfields are named after Cubs Hall of Fame players: Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. The Chicago Cubs Charities and the Mesa Hohokam Foundation donated $100,000 to sponsor Fiesta Sports Park.

   Fiesta Sports Park is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. For more information, visit mesaaz.gov/parksrec.

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{{ ** Note:  Season’s Greetings To All In US and Canada.** }}

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