Editor's Desk - September 2010
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Where Would We Be Without You?


In the past year, I've read story after story about park budgets being cut or reduced, and the resulting facility closures. Across the country, park agencies are struggling in a tepid economic recovery, and many of you surely are at the table, trying to stand up for what you bring to your communities.

Every time I read one of these stories, I find myself thinking about what my own town and life would be like if it weren't for the local park district and other recreation, sports and fitness organizations in the surrounding area.

For one thing, we'd be taking our family walk on busy streets alongside fast-moving cars. We live in a less developed area, and there are no sidewalks. But, because the forest preserve district and other agencies maintain a beautiful, many-miles-long trail that passes about a quarter mile from our house, we can enjoy lovely walks, bike rides and morning runs among the trees without worrying about oncoming traffic. In the winter, I'd be skiing on the street or in circles in the back yard. The forest preserve also does an excellent job of grooming the local trails for XC skiers.

On rainy days and when the snow has covered the trail, we would be sitting inside with frowny faces. As it stands now, we head to the gym and get our exercise there. They have a babysitting service, so I can leave my daughter there to play and be active on their indoor playground while I get in a run or a yoga class upstairs. What's more, if I ever work up the nerve to, er, expand my horizons, I can sign up for swim lessons specifically for grownups or I could check out the climbing gym.

If we'd rather play outside in the snow, we can head to the local sledding hill, maintained by the forest preserve. Or we can take part in any number of fun winter programs at the parks around us.

Without the park district, my daughter would be starting kindergarten without any prior educational experience. Lucky for us, the local park district facility offers an outstanding preschool program. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I look forward to hearing the new songs they sang in school that day.

On the Fourth of July, we'd have to schlep around until we could find a good place to watch fireworks. Instead, we're lucky enough to live in a town that puts on a great show, with a festival all day long and a road race to help us offset the delicious barbecue later in the day.

No playgrounds.

No ball games.

No birdwatching.

No picnics in the park.

No boating on the lake at the forest preserve.

No taking the dog to romp with other slobbering canines at the dog park.

What would we do with ourselves?

Is there any way we can help everyone remember how important parks and recreation facilities are in our daily lives?

I ask, because every time I read about a park that closed, a swimming pool that never opened for the season, a recreation facility that had to lock its doors, I wonder about the youngsters who might have lost their preschool, the runners who have to turn to their own treadmills, the kids who might never learn to swim.

In some cases, you read about these people getting together and raising the funds to keep a good thing going. But it's important for us all to remember—maybe even to be reminded of—everything that we gain by having strong local agencies to support our recreational, sporting and fitness needs.

How are you letting your community and political leaders know about the critical importance of what you bring to the table?

Cheers!

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director
emily@recmanagement.com



Court Report - An Update

We ran a story in the August Problem-Solver Guide Book that took a closer look at Stelluti v. Casapenn Enterprises LLC. The authors, David S. Blatteis, Esq., and Andrew D. Linden, Esq., would like to update you as follows:

The Supreme Court of New Jersey recently re-visited Stelluti v. Casapenn Enterprises, LLC to determine whether Powerhouse Gym's exculpatory agreement protected it from liability after a client was injured as a result of an indoor cycling bike malfunction. New Jersey's highest court, after considering whether the public interest would be adversely affected, affirmed the Appellate Division's ruling, finding that the club can insulate itself from liability for negligence with a properly drafted agreement. The Court likened a health club to other athletic facilities, such as ski areas and skating rinks, which are entitled to the protection of an exculpatory agreement. The Court further reasoned that gym patrons do assume some risk by engaging in strenuous activities that have the potential to result in injury. Like the Appellate Division's ruling (as discussed in the article), the Supreme Court's decision is favorable to gym owners. It does not, however, grant health clubs a license to abandon regular maintenance practices or permit a health center to act with 'willful blindness.'

If a court finds that you were grossly negligent, you are still on the hook, as no contract can protect you.



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