Problem Solver - August 2008
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Adding Shelters to Your Park

Park shelters can be popular places, offering a picnic spot for families and friends to gather, or simply providing a location where patrons can get a little shade or protection from the weather. Adding shelters and other structures to your park is a sound investment, as they not only provide this crucial gathering place, but also beautify your site and can even offer a way to improve your revenues.

Getting a unified look at your site is a snap too. While once upon a time, park planners went to the drawing board and created shelters and structures from scratch, these days you can find stunning prefabricated shelters and structures to suit your site. From arbors and gazebos to kiosks to picnic shelters, there are structures to meet every park's and patron's need.

Q: How can I simplify the planning process?

A: This is where fabricated metal shelters are a real standout. Cement floors with wooden posts and roofs might have served parks' needs in the past, but if you want to give your park a customized, aesthetic appeal, you should consider one of the new fabricated, beautifully designed park structures. You won't have to start fresh and draw up plans for each shelter, which means you can save precious time and get your shelters installed that much quicker.

Q: How much time and how many people will it take to install a structure at our park?

A: Ask the manufacturer for details about installation requirements. Generally speaking, the less complicated structures are simple to install, though this depends on your skill. If you have someone on your crew with general construction experience, the installation will be even easier.

Depending on the size of the structure and the model, as well as your crew's skill level, the installation could take anywhere from just a few hours to several days. Generally, you'll need at least two or three people to complete the installation.

Q: I don't want our park to look like everyone else's. Is it possible to customize structures to fit in better with our park?

A: Don't worry that going with a fabricated metal shelter or structure means your options will be limited. Manufacturers offer shelters that are multi-tiered and vented, some with decorative lattice work, lighting systems and even cupolas.

A wide variety of designs are available, from contemporary to classic, with many options for customization and added decorative flair. You can find shelters that complement existing site elements, such as playgrounds, dugouts and more. Just ask your manufacturer to help point you in the right direction.

You don't need to stop with picnic shelters, either. To further coordinate your site, you can purchase other structures to match your shelters, including trellises and pergolas. And if you are looking for a centralized location to post information about events, park hours, rules and other facts for the public, some shelter manufacturers also offer coordinated kiosks that can add to the cohesive look of your park. These kiosks will serve to provide wayfinding and other information, while keeping those postings safe from the elements.

Q: How can shelters add value to my park?

A: In addition to making your park more attractive, which will automatically draw more people in, there are other ways you can leverage your park shelters and structures to increase visitors.

For a fee, some parks allow users to hold concerts, weddings or other events at particularly attractive shelters. Others offer shelters for rental for picnics and family reunions throughout the busy season, when visitors might otherwise have to compete for space.

Picnic shelters aren't the only way to add value to your park. Structures like pergolas, which allow more light to get through, have been used as memorials by many parks and cities.

You don't have to use your shelters to increase revenue, though. Simply installing a beautiful shelter will benefit your visitors for years to come as they seek a spot to gather for picnics, socializing or just to get out of the sun.

Classic Recreation Systems Inc.: