The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Plans for 109-acre Sportspark move forward in Warren County !

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LEBANON, OH  —
Plans for an 109-acre Warren County Sports Complex at Union Village were supported Thursday by the Warren County Regional Planning Executive Committee.

The recommendation for approval, another step toward completion of the project, was lauded by Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices, owners of more than 1,400 acres south of Springboro, where the complex is to be a key component of the Union Village planned community.

“We are thrilled to have a sports complex anchoring the northern part of what we hope will become Union Village,” Gary Horning, vice president of marketing and communications for Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices, said in an email.

The commission’s executive committee, made up of officials from throughout Warren County, reviewed plans and standards for the facility, off Greentree Road and Ohio 741, within the Union Village development.

Work could begin in March or April.

The park is to include 12 multi-use fields, four baseball diamonds, two championship multi-sport fields, two championship baseball fields and two concession stand and restroom facilities on the northwest corner of the the proposed village.

The park is planned on both sides of Turtlecreek Twp. Park, on Greentree Road, and across Ohio 741 from Warren County’s Armco Park.

Additional netting and tree plantings were recommended by the committee to buffer the facility and its lights from neighboring properties and the roads.

But the committee supported the paln largely as submitted.

It is still subject to approval by the Warren County Board of Commissioners.

Otterbein has agreed to donate the land for the sports complex, provided a cost and tax sharing plan is worked out for the Union village development.

This week, Turtlecreek Twp. submitted plans for a community authority which would assess property owners and visitors to help pay for amenities and maintenance of the development expected to take shape over the next 30 to 50 years.

Earlier this month, the Turtlecreek Twp. trustees submitted proposed tax abatements of 50 percent of property tax on homes and 100 percent of property taxes on commercial development for 30 years.

The sports park is to be operated by the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau (WCCVB) and funded largely through an additional lodging tax from local hotels.

After the meeting, Phil Smith, executive director, said approval of the tax by the county commissioners remained a “work in progress”.

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BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! ( Feb.’17.)

Qualite
Feb. 20, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S QUICK TIP
The purpose of nail dragging — or scarifying — the infield skin is to remove cleat marks and other imperfections that can hamper an infield’s playability. Cleats are typically about 3/8″ long, so your nail drag depth should be no deeper than 1/4 – 1/2″. The grooves in the base soil left by a nail drag help infield topdressing (or the top 1/2″ of soil) remain in place. When nail dragging, you’ll need to go over the infield twice — the second pattern cutting perpendicular to the first. This “cross-cutting” prevents infields from developing ripples, giving you a consistently smooth surface that’s more playable. To continue learning about this topic check out the Groundskeeper University lesson, Scarifying the Infield Skin…

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles and GroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Base Anchor Plugs  — 10% OFF
Use on ground anchors when bases are not in use. Prevents dirt buildup around stake and inside sleeve. Sold as single plugs. Exclusive Base Anchor Plugs: use plug10 during checkout (offer valid thru Feb. 26).

Puddle Sponge — 10% OFF
Remove puddles quickly and easily with this sponge that is built to last through several seasons of use. It’s easy, and won’t disturb your topdressing — absorb puddles, squeeze out the puddle water in a grassy off-field area and then hang to dry. Sold as set of 3 sponges. Exclusive Puddle Sponge: use puddle10 during checkout (offer valid thru Feb. 26).

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK
Open Box Item — Schutt Ball Barrel Save 30%!  —  GREAT VALUE — No more bending! Spring-loaded shelf raises as you remove balls. Holds 240 baseballs or 96 softballs. Limited quantities. Brand-new condition. Schutt Ball Barrel

This Has Everything You Need…
If you need it for your field, you’ll find it here. Get your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource: The 2017 Beacon Catalog. Have you received one? If not, request your copy today. Our 2017 catalog is our complete listing of products to get you ready for the upcoming season. 

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Preliminary work approved for Sylvan Lake, AB sports park !

Park proposed for west side of town to have baseball diamonds and soccer fields and an RV camp.

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Preliminary work has begun on a major sports park in Sylvan Lake, AB (Canada).

Last year, a local family donated 20 acres for the park and the town spent just over $1 million to buy another 54 acres from the family. The proposed site is just west of 60th Street on the west side of Sylvan Lake, AB.

Four baseball diamond, two soccer fields, multi-use artificial turf field, cricket pitch,volleyball courts and cricket pitch will be built along with a basketball court that will become an outdoor ice rink in winter. The park will also have a fieldhouse,special events green space and a 25-stall RV camping site.

The new sports park will be known as Pogadl Park in recognition of the the land donation in the name of Ed and Glenda Pogadl.

Earier this week, Sylvan Lake town council approved a $9,834 contract with Red Deer’s Union Street Geotechnical to determine what site work will be needed to develop the park.

Town spokesperson Joanne Gaudet said the park is a long-term project. Council has put aside $270,000 in 2018 and 2019 and $1.27 million in 2020 for the project.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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Qualite Sports Lighting, LLC and the GameChanger™ LED Sports Light Named as a Finalist for the 2017 Edison Awards™ !

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Qualite Sports Lighting, LLC and the GameChanger™ LED Sports Light Named as a Finalist for the 2017 Edison Awards™

Qualite Sports Lighting, LLC has been named as a finalist in the 2017 Edison Awards™ for their revolutionary design of the LED sports lighting system, the GameChanger. The Edison Awards™ is an annual, global competition honoring excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design, and innovation.

Qualite’s success in this competition represents their innovative strategy and industry-leading designs. Frank Bonafilia, Edison Awards’™ Executive Director said, “Edison Awards™ recognizes the game-changing products and services, and the teams that brought them to the consumers. It’s exciting to see companies like Qualite Continuing Thomas Edison’s legacy of challenging conventional thinking.”

Edison Award™ nominees are judged by more than 3,000 senior business executives from across the United States, whose votes acknowledge the finalists’ success in meeting the award’s strict criteria and quality standards. Award winners will be announced on April 20, 2017 at the Edison Awards Annual Gala, held in the historic ballroom of the Capitale in New York City.

About the Edison Awards™

The Awards are named after Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) whose extraordinary new product and market development methods garnered him 1,093 U.S. patents and made him a household name across the world. The Edison Awards™ symbolize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Edison and his Menlo Park team, while also strengthening the human drive for innovation, creativity, and ingenuity.

About Qualite Sports Lighting

Qualite has been the Sports Lighting Partner for high schools, colleges, parks and recreation departments, and minor and major league professional sports franchises for over 30 years. Qualite’s Q-LED GameChanger™ is the first high performance sports lighting system designed for all sports venues, from youth to professional sports stadiums with a focus on great connectivity and functionality at affordable pricing. Qualite Sports Lighting is a wholly owned subsidiary of Worth Investment Group.

Dan Leahy
Qualite Sales Manager – Eastern Region
Phone: 856.516.1044
dleahy@qualite.com

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Hot Diggity Dog Jog at SportsPark On April 1st !

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The Greenville, TX SportsPark will be going to the dogs April 1, during the Sixth Annual Hot Diggity Dog Jog/Gettin’ Jiggy with Pet Cancer Awareness and Bark in the Park events.

Multiple canine-related activities are scheduled throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. The event is presented by the Turtle Creek Veterinary Medical Center in Greenville and will include a 5k Race, a one mile Fun Run/Walk, a K-9 Police Unit demonstration, a “Teach Your Dog a Trick” class,  pony rides, a petting zoo, the Strut Your Mutt Dog Talent Show, a raffle, the Running Of the Wieners dog race, the announcement of the winners of the BarkART contest and more.

The center’s hospital team will also be on site in an informational booth to talk about general veterinary medicine, and specifically pet cancer awareness.

Proceeds benefit the Morris Animal Foundation for pet cancer awareness and research. 

Additional information is available at www.hotdiggitydogjog.com

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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Regional Sports Plex put on market for $5.3 million !

Lights#1   Mr. Tim Stonecipher and nine investors broke ground in June 2007 on a vacant west McCracken County lot, a “bean field” on Highway 60 that became the Paducah Regional Sports Plex.

   “None of us did this to get a (major) return on our investment,” said Stonecipher, who originally conceived of the project and retains an ownership stake. “We did it for other reasons.

   “We wanted to be God-centered, number one. We wanted to increase the economic impact of the area, and of course, the overall wellness of the community.”

    Nearly a decade later, the ownership group is ready to sell. The multi-use, climate-controlled indoor sports facility, which encompasses roughly 80,000 square feet and sits on 39 acres, went on the market 10 days ago. The asking price is $5.3 million.

The sports plex draws 150,000 visitors annually for basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball and other activities. Over the years it has hosted everything from dog agility competitions to mixed martial arts to roller derby.

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Stonecipher outlined ownership’s decision.

“We all committed to five years, and we’ve been in this now for a decade,” he said. “We are ready to pass the baton. We feel like somebody will have new, fresh ideas and can take it to the next level and further the goals we had.

“We don’t want this to be misunderstood. We’re not closing any part of the facility, and this isn’t a matter of, ‘Oh, no. The plex is financially caving.’ It really is that we’ve put in 10 years, a lot more time than we thought, and we’re ready to hand it off. We know there are people out there with great, fresh ideas for the property.”

Sirk & Company Real Estate in Paducah is listing the property.

Ben Sirk described the sports plex as one of the area’s most “unique” properties, one benefitted by proximity to Kentucky Oaks Mall, Interstate 24, Barkley Regional Airport and McCracken County High School. It’s also in a growing part of the county.

“Over the last 10 years especially, every user and tenant that wants to locate a business in Paducah, primarily retail, wants to be on Highway 60 and they want to be as close to the mall as they can be,” Sirk said.

“It’s a little bit down the road from where the majority of developments are now, but again, this is a destination-type property.  It draws its own crowd.”

Stonecipher said roughly half the people who visit the indoor facility each year come from outside of Paducah and McCracken County. He estimates the sports plex has a $9 million annual impact on the local economy.

“There’s just not another place like ours until you get to Nashville,” he said.

Sirk said it’s early in the sale process, and interest in the sports plex hasn’t gone beyond initial inquiries. He said there’s no telling when a sale might be completed.

“Marketing a property like this really is a completely different animal from marketing just a residential house or lot,” he said. “Finding a user or buyer can be difficult, especially in western Kentucky. We’re marketing this thing worldwide.

“The main focus is to just get this in front of as many eyeballs as possible because it only takes one buyer. The name of the game is maximum exposure.”

There are 12 options for potential buyers or leasers, Sirk said. Packages are available for seven commercial lots fronting Highway 60, leasing 12,688 square feet within the sports plex, or buying the property outright, he said.

McCracken County Commissioner Bill Bartleman said the sports plex has been an attraction for out-of-towners and an amenity for local residents.

“It’s an important piece of real estate, and they have an important product there,” he said. “It brings people into the community.

“I think the county would like to see that continue to be operated in the way it is now and probably expanded. I think it maybe has never reached its potential of what it could do for the community. If the right developer comes in with some innovation it could be an even bigger attraction.”

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! ( Jan’17.)

Feb. 5, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

Qualite

THIS WEEK’S QUICK TIP

When mowing, never cut more than one-third of the blade of grass. Mowing more than 1/3 of the shoot height will significantly lower the rate of photosynthesis. This will create a shallower root system which will weaken the turf. Click here to continue learning about this topic at the Groundskeeper U lesson, Moisture Management Around the Field

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

 BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! ( Jan’17.)

Mound Slope Gauge  — 10% OFF

The essential tool for a proper mound slope. Includes a heavy-duty aluminum alignment gauge, metal ruler, two support rods, storage container, and instructions. Exclusive Beacon Mound Slope Gauge: use slope10 during checkout (offer valid thru Feb. 12).

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 Feb. 5, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! ( Jan’17.)

Base Anchor Dig Out Tool — 10% OFF

Quickly and easily remove excess dirt from your base ground anchors with this steel blade dig out tool with sturdy wooden handle Exclusive Base Anchor Dig Out Tool: use dig10 during checkout (offer valid thru Feb. 12).

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BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! ( Jan’17.)

 Feb. 5, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

DISCONTINUED ITEM OF THE WEEK

Discontinued Item — Base Anchor Plugs Save 20%!   Back by popular demand! We have more anchor plugs for you… Use on ground anchors when bases are not in use to prevent dirt buildup around stake and inside sleeve. Brand-new condition. Base Anchor Plugs

BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! ( Jan’17.)

 Feb. 5, 2017       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

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DON’T WAIT! Request Your Copy Today

The season is upon us. Get your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource: The 2017 Beacon Catalog. Have you received one? If not, request your copy today. Our 2017 catalog is our complete listing of products to get you ready for the upcoming season. 

Get the Catalog

Now is the time for 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!

 sports-equipment-12

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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Portions of Libertyville Sports Complex Could Be Sold Off !

Indoor_SportsPortions of Libertyville Sports Complex Could Be Sold Off  !

 January 2017

A decade after the initial offering, portions of the Libertyville Sports Complex in IL. at Route 45 and Peterson Road could be for sale again soon.

Village officials have designated the areas occupied by a driving range and mini-golf course as surplus property – as required to sell public land – and intend to sell all or portions to reduce the annual $800,000 debt not covered by revenues from the operation.

But action on an agreement to list the property with a real estate firm was tabled Tuesday because a proposal for a part of the site was received just hours before the scheduled vote. If the listing pact were approved, the village would be liable for a 2 percent commission even though no work had been done on its behalf, Mayor Terry Weppler said.

“We don’t know if this is a legitimate offer or not,” he said of the late-arriving proposal.

The village staff is reviewing the validity of a suggestion to use some of the golf tee boxes. Village Administrator Chris Clark described it as a test for a “high-end driving range concept” that would be privately run but complementary to the existing setup.

“We have to see if that makes sense for Libertyville or not,” he said.

In any case, officials have decided to divest rather than invest in portions of the sports complex, a holding that was supposed to pay for itself but never has. The listing agreement sets the initial asking price at $12.5 million.

“A key goal is land sale proceeds to pay off debt,” Clark said. “We think, at least to some extent, the economy has shown some signs of improvement.”

The village listed the properties in 2007 and accepted an offer for the family entertainment portion, but the plan fizzled. Subsequent offers were far below the perceived value and the properties eventually were taken off the market, but the debt issue remains.

The village borrowed $25 million in two bond issues to buy the land and build the sports complex, which opened in June 2002. About $16 million of that debt remains. Principal and interest amount to $1.45 million each year, but revenue from the operation is about $800,000 short, and funds are transferred to cover the gap. Those bond issues were refinanced a few years ago and don’t expire until 2027 and 2032.

“The contingency plan was if it doesn’t work, we can always sell the land,” said Trustee Rich Moras, who chairs the board’s finance committee.

The sports complex is compose of the Golf Learning Center (driving range and facilities), the Family Entertainment Center (leased by Aloha Falls LLC for mini-golf and a game center) and the Indoor Sports Center, which includes athletic courts and fields, a fitness center and other amenities.

The indoor center carries its financial weight, village officials stress, and has never been for sale. [  Chicago Daily Herald  ]

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips ! (Jan’17.)

Qualite

BEACON Ballfields Weekly Field Tips !

Jan. 30, 2017

|       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S QUICK TIP
Fan and leaf rakes are a great way to remove material from your edges after the field is used. Push brooms also work great when you need to remove a larger amount of material. Click here to continue learning about this topic at the Groundskeeper U lesson, Lip Management: How to Remove Lips…

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

SweetSpot Tamp  — 10% OFF
This is not your father’s tamp. No more swollen hands and aching back. It’s the classic groundskeeper’s tamp, reinvented. Interchangeable tamp heads give you up to 4 tamps in 1. Exclusive SweetSpot Field Tamp System: use sweet10 during checkout (offer valid thru Feb. 5).

Deluxe Overseed Enhancing Tool — 10% OFF
Designed to penetrate compacted soil for overseeding wear areas on your field. Exclusive Deluxe Overseed Enhancing Tool: use over10 during checkout (offer valid thru Feb. 5).

FEATURED OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK
Open Box Item — Standard Backstop Padding Save up to $85!  —  There are two options: Royal blue 4’H x 10’W or Kelly green 45″H x 87″W. In both cases the padding was returned for being the wrong size. Brand-new condition. Standard Backstop Padding

Request Your Copy Today
Be sure you have a copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource: The 2017 Beacon Catalog. Have you received your copy? If not, request your copy today. Our 2017 catalog is our complete listing of products to get you ready for the upcoming season.

Now is the time for 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!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

SODA_AD_17
www.sadlersports.com/soda

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SODA Logo “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada Since 1981”

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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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