Feature Article - November 2006
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Special Supplement: Problem-Solver Guidebook

By Stacy St. Clair and Emily Tipping

Maintaining Your Sites Proactively

When visitors come to your parks, you want them to be impressed enough to come back. Nothing can turn off patrons more than poor upkeep—whether it's graffiti-coated bathroom walls or sticky fingerprints on playground equipment. And in an ever-building spiral, the more run-down you let your facility become, the more likely vandals and other nefarious characters will further deface your property. Here's what you need to know to keep your site in mint condition.

Q: It seems we're always playing catch-up with site maintenance. How can we be more proactive?

A: Don't wait until your parks and facilities are in disarray to take action. Make a plan that addresses daily, weekly, monthly and yearly upkeep. This can involve such tasks as checking for burnt-out light bulbs, washing away graffiti, making repairs, cleaning surfaces and so on. Give all of the employees who will handle these tasks a laminated copy of the list, and be sure to include the required equipment and instructions, if necessary. Also, whoever's in charge should perform a regular "official" inspection, just to be sure all problems are being addressed.

Q: Our park always seems to be full of litter. How can we keep things cleaner?

A: Aside from creating the regular checklist, you should train your employees to keep things clean as they work. Staff can pick up garbage as they attend to their daily duties, ensuring that things stay neater. Any major cleaning of your facility can take place at night. That way, patrons are less likely to be disrupted. As an added benefit, your nighttime presence will discourage vandals.

Q: We have a problem with graffiti artists and other vandals. What can we do to stop them?

A: Remove the graffiti as soon as possible. According to the Keep America Beautiful campaign, when you remove graffiti within two days of its appearance, you'll get virtually no reoccurrence. On the other hand, if you leave it there for two weeks, you'll see a near 100 percent reoccurrence rate.

To help your staff, cover bathroom walls, park benches and other commonly graffitied surfaces with a protective coating, such as a clear coating. This makes things much easier to clean up. Newer clear coats are available that allow you to use a solvent to get rid of the graffiti without ruining the paint underneath or the clear coat itself.

Q: We don't have a lot of staff or money to devote to maintenance. How can we reduce wear and tear, as well as the need to perform regular maintenance?

A: First of all, you can select surfaces and site furnishings that don't require as much upkeep. Wood surfaces, for example, often need to be repainted or restained.

Another option is to protect your purchases from the elements and from everyday wear and tear. Clear-coating a protective finish on components like playground equipment, picnic tables, trash receptacles and shelter walls can solve many issues—from sun and other weather damage to the need for regular repainting.

Some clear coat options on the market have UV inhibitors, making them ideal for outdoor use. Constant sun exposure will not fade the paint beneath, keeping surfaces looking freshly painted.

In addition, by reducing the need for harsh cleaning chemicals, clear coats can help protect your workers from exposure to potentially dangerous materials. It also makes their jobs easier, by making surfaces more cleanable.

Even better, they won't have to repaint everything in the park on a yearly basis. Some clear coats have demonstrated an ability to withstand harsh environments—from the sea coast to the penetrating Florida sun—for as long as a decade.


   DuPont Specialty Chemicals: 800-438-3876   

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