Supplement Feature - April 2014
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Bling It On!

Accessorizing With Site Furnishings & Amenities

By Kelli Ra Anderson

Creature Comforts

Thankfully, as the economy is finally growing, many companies report that municipalities are investing more of their budgets on the creature comforts that make people stay in recreational spaces longer. In Florida, for example, where there is a large senior population, parks are increasingly equipped with amenities and furnishings to make their particular experience a more comfortable one.

"The older retired population love RV camping, so we have had to increase the amenities we provide in our 2,500 sites in 59 parks like upgrading electrical amp service from 30 to 50 amps," said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service. "They want to get out in the wild, but they want a degree of comfort." To that end, Forgione said they also provide sewer hookups and have strategically added many more resting areas and seating along trails.

Comfort and convenience are not just for the young at heart, however. In Round Rock, Texas, for example, parents of young children asked for something to help them keep sand out of their cars after a visit to a park sandbox. The solution was a rinsing station feature to spray water on little hands and feet to eliminate the problem. Misters, too, became a big hit at athletic fields to help team players and spectators cool off during the hot Texas summers.

Wi-Fi, too, is a new amenity visitors to Florida's largest state park enjoy. "We're adding more and more Wi-Fi. Of course we understand we can't Wi-Fi the whole 80,000 acres, but we can put it in the gift shops or campground areas," Forgione explained. "So, in the Wi-Fi areas campers can stay in contact with family, friends, check the weather and plan their outing activities appropriately. We are doing that more and more."

Then there are the products that address the convenience needs of the maintenance staff. Some trash receptacle designs, for example, have liners that slide out, designed for easy removal, or systems where the bag is held in place so it doesn't fall and spill out its contents. Some come with locks to prevent lids being left open or vandalism, and can be more reliable than closing mechanisms that can break down over time.

Humans are not the only ones to enjoy a little site furnishing comfort, however. Visitors to campgrounds and parks increasingly travel these days with their dogs. As a result, in welcome areas along interstates, public parks, campgrounds and neighborhoods, it is not uncommon to see doggie waste stations and human/pet drinking fountains.

Then, of course, there are the dog parks with even more creature comforts for our four-legged friends. "We have a dog agility course with balance beams and hoops and a pooch post where you can tie up your dog so you can sit on a bench to rest and not have to hold onto them the whole time," said MacLean of one of their newest park additions.

Games and exercise features for dogs are just one of many site furnishings that cater to play in our parks these days. Site furnishings continue to change with the times when it comes to the activity du jour. Bag toss games are replacing many of yesteryear's horseshoe pits, for example, while in some areas of the country bocce ball is making a comeback.

Also, as cities discover the many benefits of intergenerational playgrounds, more parks are including play equipment for adults, as well. "Outdoor exercise equipment has come a long way in quality, durability and lots of selection," said Dan Dalziel, RLA, ASLA and founder of 3D Design Studio in Grayslake, Ill. "And thanks to the interest of the aging 'Boomers'!"

Due to an increased interest in alternative modes of transportation, biking, too, is on the rise, along with the site furnishings particularly helpful to bikers. Bike racks, of course, are nothing new, but some of the newer designs certainly are, as are the addition of such items as bike repair stations for on-the-trail repairs, air pumping stations or bike lockers for greater convenience.