Problem Solver - August 2007
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Improving Your Parks with Shelters

We're trying to spruce up our parks without undergoing any major capital improvement projects. What are our options?

Your options are endless, thanks to the diversity and aesthetic appeal of park shelters. Progressive recreation managers view shelters as an opportunity to protect patrons, expand programming, create an iconic location and, in some cases, make money. From arbors and gazebos to pergolas and picnic shelters, well-thought-out structures can be a sage investment.

Many parks use their shelters to host concerts, hold weddings or shield picnickers from the elements. Others rent them out, putting a price on precious shade during stifling hot days.

In places where light is more important than shade, parks have turned to trellises and pergolas. Creative park managers have used these structures as memorials to fallen soldiers, public safety officers and civic leaders, among others.

Whatever shelter-type you select, it's important to remember that the days of plain outdoor protection are long gone. Today's park users are more diverse and demanding. Boring cement floors lined with picnic tables and covered with wooden roofs may have been acceptable in the past. But now there are multi-tiered, vented structures with decorative lattice work, lighting systems and cupolas.

In addition to adding aesthetic elements, shelters help protect your patrons' health. As more and more people become aware of the harmful effects of ultraviolet exposure, an increasing number of recreation managers are realizing the importance providing sun protection at their facilities.

If you need to provide a central location to post park information, many manufacturers of shelters offer coordinated kiosks that will help create a cohesive look for your park. These kiosks can help keep wayfinding and other information safe from the elements, while also adding an attractive site element.

Classic Recreation Systems Inc.: