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Whether you live in a rural town or a big city, chances are you’re at least aware of your local parks. These are vital facilities with a wide range of benefits for visitors and owners alike—and prized public assets of any community.
However, like other public works projects, parks require maintenance. So what goes into park maintenance, and how can you make it easier with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)?
Here, we’ll discuss why parks are important, their common features, what park maintenance consists of, and how CMMS can help simplify park maintenance for owners of these public works facilities.
What is park maintenance?
Park maintenance is a set of tasks meant to keep a park clean, usable, and safe. From mowing the grass and pruning the gardens to keeping the sidewalks clean, all of this needs to be done if a park is to be properly maintained.
Why are parks necessary public works facilities?
The list of benefits parks bring to any area is practically endless. They promote:
- Health and wellness.
- A stronger economy.
- A positive force against climate change.
- Educational opportunities for children.
- Community bonding.
Above all, parks are ideal places for recreation and social gatherings. They are absolutely essential facilities across the country, which is why they’re usually protected and managed by the government.
Park maintenance best practices
For national, state, and local parks to provide the most economic benefit, they must be properly maintained. Here are a few best practices for park maintenance to ensure they look their best.
Keep parks clean and presentable
Parks aren’t just for bragging rights by a city or state — they serve a practical economic purpose.
That’s why park maintenance, and cleanliness in particular, is so important. Without a proper clean-up routine, there may be large amounts of litter, uncontrolled vegetation, dead plants, graffiti, or a massive range of other potential issues that would keep people away.
Generally, every quarter is a reasonable cadence for performing clean-up maintenance for larger state and national parks. Local parks and playgrounds, on the other hand, should be inspected and cleaned more frequently, depending on the area. Some playgrounds may require clean-up as much as once per week.
Make safety a top priority
Parks are a valuable asset to any community, but when they’re neglected and allowed to become unsafe, they can quickly become a liability. The initial design of the park plays a large role in its perceived safety and people’s willingness to use it. However, proper upkeep is important for maintaining a high level of safety.
To keep parks safe, it’s important to:
- Have security cameras in place.
- Inspect and maintain the land and structures often.
- Post clear signage for directions or hazards.
Inspect parks often
Parks that are used frequently, and especially playgrounds, are susceptible to general wear and tear. Performing an audit can help make park staff aware of any hazards, health concerns, or other items that may need attention.
When conducting an audit, here are a couple of things to look out for:
- Check walking and biking trails to make sure they’re clear of debris.
- Ensure play structures are in good condition and safe to use.
Examples of regular park maintenance for different facilities
While not all parks are the same size, many share common facilities that require maintenance. To keep everyone on the same page, it’s important to be able to organize, schedule and track all maintenance activities with a CMMS.
Here are a few examples of the maintenance required at different facilities:
- Playgrounds. Because playgrounds are vulnerable to wear and tear and weather damage, equipment must be sanitized and litter needs to be removed frequently. Occasionally, the facilities need to be polished, repainted, or repaired for proper playground maintenance.
- Hiking and running trails. Always popular with joggers, maintenance tasks include keeping signs and maps readable and in good shape, making sure the lighting stays on, repairing weather damage, and trimming excess foliage.
- Snack stands. Any food facialites need frequent cleanings, sanitation, and trash removal.
- Athletic fields and courts. While the amount of maintenance required depends on the size and type of facility, athletic fields usually require upholding lighting fixtures, mowing and painting grass, irrigation, controlling pests, and more.
- Parking lots. For anyone who arrives by vehicle, the park parking lot is their first experience with the park. To keep the area clean and usable, parking lot maintenance requires litter removal, cleaning, paving, striping, and other tasks.
Efficient grounds maintenance is imperative for the safety of public parks. Park staff use a work order management process and a solid reactive maintenance plan to ensure the safety of park grounds, to assign and dispatch maintenance crews, and to log maintenance tasks.
Who’s responsible for park maintenance?
Often, park maintenance is left up to the National Park Service and National Forest Service along with help from technicians and volunteers. Everyone who helps promote the well-being of a park has specific responsibilities.
Some of the prominent park maintenance roles include:
- Maintenance supervisors: Administrators who strategize and organize park maintenance tasks, which can include planning, obtaining equipment, enforcing rule and regulation compliance, and staff management.
- Janitors: This type of staff is responsible for ensuring the cleanliness of park facilities, such as recreation areas, restrooms, and shelters. They might help with lighting, the proper use of which can reduce instances of vandalism.
- Landscapers and gardeners: These maintenance workers help out with grass mowing, irrigation, debris cleanup, pruning, planting, and controlling weeds. Individuals who have pesticides and fertilizers are handling potentially dangerous chemicals, so they need a license from the federal government to prove they know how to use them safely.
- Technicians: Caring for equipment, managing HVAC systems, and maintaining plumbing are some of the many technician duties.
What sort of education do you need to be a park worker?
Most park maintenance jobs require only a high school diploma and some technical training or certifications. However, there are several educational opportunities available if a park worker wants to enhance their career.
Public Grounds Management
Ideal for grounds managers and technicians, this certification teaches skills such as pest management, pruning and plant identification. The license can be obtained from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP)
A generalized course that covers many different park systems, the CPRP can be highly useful in one’s career in park maintenance. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is responsible for allocating these certificates.
Playground Maintenance Technician
As the name implies, this is a special course focused on playground maintenance procedures. This can include safety and inspection guidelines. A maintenance worker can earn this certification from either the NRPA or one of several institutions partnered with the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands.
You can also often find state-sponsored park maintenance programs provided by a range of associations.
What if you want to be a park ranger?
Becoming a National Park Service park ranger requires extra education in the form of a bachelor’s degree or post-secondary education, plus a minimum of one year’s experience working in associated park ranger jobs.
Park rangers are typically — though not always — law enforcement officers, and thus assigned by the National Park Service, county and municipal parks departments, or state park systems.
How CMMS enhances park maintenance
Parks maintenance is a complex process with a wide range of jobs and responsibilities, all handled by a variety of professionals. Planning and organizing these tasks can quickly become overwhelming without a CMMS.
Park owners can use a CMMS to strategize and streamline their goals while greatly enhancing communication and collaboration among administrators and staff.
CMMS by FMX covers virtually every aspect of maintenance, including:
- Facility maintenance
- Building and grounds maintenance
- Fleet maintenance
- Work order management
- Preventive maintenance
- Capital planning
FMX’s maintenance management software is integral to the planning and carrying out of park maintenance tasks. A comprehensive solution for maintenance management, FMX’s unique approach prioritizes ease of use, enhanced configuration capabilities, and industry-leading customer success.