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Spring Tune-up for Parks

Spring Tune-up for ParksIt’s time for a spring tune-up of your park. With the return of spring and warmer weather in many parts of the country, parks will soon be the site of baseball games, children’s day camp activities and family outings. Park directors are already planning to have staff prepare parks, playgrounds, ball fields and other outdoor venues for the warm-weather season after months of minimal maintenance.

As park staff begin work on the damage created by winter weather, it’s useful to review injury sources and liability concerns common with parks. The most frequent source of injury is swimming pools and the highest average claim cost is associated with ball field, soccer field or grassy play area injuries.

Park directors are often challenged to prioritize the pre-season maintenance work that must be completed to prepare park areas for public use. Each park director, based on knowledge of the local parks, establishes a work schedule for staff to ensure that the parks will be ready for use.

Spring Maintenance Programs

There are many maintenance items that should be addressed early in the spring. The following lists are excerpted from Travelers Public Sector Services’ Spring Tune-up Program for two areas: ball fields and trails.

Ball fields, soccer fields, grassy play areas

  • Worn areas around bases or home plate
  • Uneven playing surface on the skinned infield area
  • Soil buildup between skinned area and turf area on the ball field
  • Appropriate base pads and anchoring to minimize ankle injury
  • Adequacy of buffer zones between playing field and bleachers, dugouts, fences
  • Fence posts positioned on outside of fence
  • Exposed wire ends on top of chain-link fence
  • Field lighting — burned-out lamps, adjustment of light beam direction, irregularities in lighting grid pattern on the field
  • Bleacher structural integrity
  • Openings in bleacher seating areas (fall hazard)
  • Soccer goals anchored
  • Drainage
  • Depressions or uneven surface in turf areas
  • Tripping hazards, sprinkler heads, drainage gates, irrigation valve boxes

Trails, walkways

  • Depressions or uneven surfaces
  • Level surface between trail or walkway and adjacent turf area
  • Trail directional markings
  • Designated-use markings (bike paths, pedestrian-only walkways)
  • Lighting adequacy, burned-out bulbs
  • Lighting poles positioned out of the way of users
  • Structural integrity of bridges or elevated areas
  • Protective barriers for falls from bridges or elevated areas

Playground maintenance issues

  • Adequate depth of impact-absorbing surface under play equipment
  • Entrapment hazards
  • Entanglement hazards
  • Protective barriers for elevated areas
  • Sharp edges
  • Protrusions or pinch points
  • Worn or open S-hooks on swing chains
  • Exposed concrete footings
  • Hot metal surfaces
  • Structural integrity of play equipment

Similar hazard and maintenance lists can be generated for swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, golf courses and other park and recreation operations.