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Modern Local Parks & Recreation Strategy 2023: Strategic Planning Tips & Considerations

By Harrison Kelly

Local parks, sports facilities, and public event spaces play an integral role in your citizens’ quality of life. Yet, if your parks and recreation department isn’t using modern workflows, things like field rentals, park infrastructure maintenance, and the building, maintenance, and use of new recreation infrastructure can be slow moving and hinder the local quality of life and economic development. 

Fortunately, modern parks and recreation software is designed to maximize productivity and encourage usage of local parks and fields for fun events, sports leagues, and improvement of your community-members’ health, all while stimulating the local economy. Follow along for tips for modernizing your parks & rec workflows, and how government technology can help.  

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What Are the Key Responsibilities of the Parks and Recreation Department? 

The parks and recreation department is in charge of managing and maintaining local public parks and spaces that are used for recreational purposes like exercise and socializing. Key aspects of the day-to-day operations of the parks and recreation department include:

  • Investing in building new public space infrastructure such as sports fields, event spaces, public beaches, boardwalks, parks, walkways and bike lanes, boating ramps, etc. on available land 
  • Ensuring the Inspection and maintenance of existing public infrastructure and assets.
  • Accepting and approving permit and license applications like event permits, beach passes, sports field usage, and other common use cases for public space.

The department allocates budgets towards these endeavors and is required to maintain public record storage of parks and recreation related paperwork.

Why Do Local Governments Need to Prioritize the Parks and Recreation Department?

Investing in local public spaces like parks and event spaces is integral to the local quality of life in your community. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Healthier Citizens: People with access to park systems and walkable areas are more likely to exercise and will be healthier and happier as a result. Combatting obesity in America requires local governments to provide citizens with adequate work out space and opportunities to exercise with a great example being the construction of pickleball courts
  • Property Values & Economic Development: People looking to move actively consider the quality of local parks and public spaces when choosing a neighborhood. Prioritizing a high-quality park system has a direct impact on property values and local economic development by encouraging population growth. 
  • Government Revenue Generation: Your local government can generate funds through digital government fee collection for every sports field or event space rental. The thousands of dollars being generated can be reinvested back into public spaces and other critical government services. 

Tips for Improving Your Parks and Rec Workflows with Government Technology

Your parks and recreation department does everything from building and maintaining recreational areas to renting out public spaces for sports and events. 

Here are a variety of ways you can handle these tasks in a more efficient manner with automation and improved workflows via parks and rec software.

1. Online Parks & Rec Applications + Approval / Denial 

Your parks and rec department is constantly receiving and approving permit applications. Let citizens and businesses reserve public spaces with digital applications right from your government website, including:

Once a permit is received, your government officials can digitally approve the application, or provide a reason for denial and let them reapply. 

Read on for more info about How Digital Permitting Systems Work

2. Simplified Reserving of Public Spaces

When a space is reserved, the online scheduling platform will update in real time. Sports coaches, event planners, etc. will be able to see if their preferred time slot for a space rental is available or not, ensuring that there will never be an instance of an accidental double booking that could previously occur with human error. Clerical parks and recreation officials will no longer need to be bogged down helping citizens reserve spaces, and can prioritize other crucial to-dos instead. 

3. Automated Notifications for Scheduling Inspections & Maintenance 

Your citizens expect their parks and public spaces to be well-maintained to preserve nature and keep fields safe to play on. 

Government scheduling software can automate notifications for critical inspections and recurring maintenance projects to relevant officials in the parks and recs department and related departments like the department of public works. Once the relevant official is notified, they will be expected to schedule the inspection or asset maintenance in the near future. These notifications hold government workers accountable and ensure that no critical parks and rec infrastructure becomes inadequate for public use due to a lack of maintenance. 

Consider our guide on Local Government Pool & Aquatic Facility Construction & Inspection Strategy for examples of how to prioritize inspection scheduling ahead of time. 

4. Mobile Inspection Forms

Once your inspections are scheduled, your inspectors can utilize mobile inspection forms directly from a tablet via the GovInspect platform. Using a government mobile field device to perform inspections of local parks and facilities ensures that the inspection is timely and thorough, and the forms and related paperwork are instantly accessible to relevant officials from the cloud.

5. Digital Parks and Recreation Record Storage

There are thousands of documents that fall under your department’s purview, from permit applications to asset maintenance reports to zoning permits and beyond. 

Keeping all of these files organized, and finding a particular document on the fly, is inefficient and downright difficult with paper-based filing. Luckily, you can embrace paperless governance and track down records in a few clicks by moving your record storage to the cloud. 

As soon as an application is submitted from your government website or a government official performs maintenance on a public space, the digital records will be automatically saved in the government cloud and made accessible to all relevant parks and rec officials (and every other relevant municipal or county government department official). 

Learn more about How Cloud-Based Government Data Storage Works

6. Insightful Data About How Public Spaces are Being Used 

Every time a space is being reserved, government software is collecting real-time data about which spaces are being utilized and for what purposes. 

Insightful government analytics reporting will showcase the most popular types of sports and activities in your neighborhood, and allow you to make educated decisions about how to use existing spaces as well as prioritize future public spaces to build. 

Consider how pollution is effecting the environment of your public parks and create solutions such as a Local Government Air Pollution Management Strategy to protect public health. 

7. Digital RFPs for Parks and Recreation Projects

GovPilot keeps a digital record of all relevant private-sector partners your government has worked with or previously received proposals from.

Whenever a new project arises that requires contractors, your parks and rec department can send out digital requests-for-proposal and have contractors submit proposals online. 

8. Simplified Government Communications

Correspondence can be streamlined within the parks and recreation department, with directly related departments like the DPW and economic development department, as well as private-sector partners and citizens with a digital government communications channel. With GovPilot, government officials can communicate and pass along critical public records and information via a simplified text-based platform.

Learn more about Streamlining Government Communications in the parks and rec department and beyond. 

Modernizing the Parks and Recreation Department

After several years of limited socialization during the pandemic, Americans are eager to get back to attending community events and utilizing public spaces. Your local government needs to prioritize the parks and recreation department to ensure that there are sufficient public spaces for exercise and community gatherings that truly make your neighborhood a community. 

Parks and recreation software can speed up permit approval processes, ensure public spaces are being well maintained and inspected, and can store all of the critical paperwork related to space rentals, organized sports, inspections, etc. in the easy-to-navigate government cloud.

For help making your parks and rec digital transformation with GovPilot, book a free demo

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Parks & Recreation Software & Infrastructure FAQs

1. How Can Local Governments Fund Parks & Recreation Projects?

Your local government can utilize federal and state grants to fund both physical public facility infrastructure projects as well as digital infrastructure to modernize parks and recreation workflows. The American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act both set aside federal dollars for local governments to utilize towards key infrastructure investments in their neighborhoods. To receive these funds, your local government will need to build a strategic plan around the projects that matter most and send in applications for the relevant grants outlined in the bills.

2. Why Should the Parks & Rec Department Use Government Software

Government software saves time and money for the parks and recreation department by automating tedious processes and collecting insightful data. 

Here are a few ways parks and recreation software can benefit your department:

  • Permits and licenses applications can be submitted and approved online. Beach badges, event permits, etc. can be passed over via email once approved by parks and recreation officials. 
  • RFPs for relevant public space projects can be digitally passed to relevant contractors in your area, and their bids can be submitted online. 
  • Inspection forms can be moved online and filled out in the field from a tablet. 
  • All relevant parks and recreation files are stored and accessible from the cloud.

3. What Types of Infrastructure Projects Should Local Parks & Recreation Departments Prioritize? 

Popular use cases for available public land include:

  • Sports fields & courts: soccer fields, tennis & pickleball courts, baseball fields, etc. are great use cases for public spaces to encourage physical activity and generate local government revenue via space rentals. 
  • Hiking trails: preserve nature in your community while encouraging citizens to enjoy fresh air in the woods on a hike or mountain bike ride. 
  • Event spaces: give your neighborhood a sense of community by encouraging local groups and individuals to book event spaces for various activities. 
  • Bike lanes and pedestrian zones: your local government can and should encourage constituents to prioritize their health by using bikes, e-bikes, and their feet to travel around town and at parks. 
  • Dog parks and animal friendly zones: these areas of your locality should be prioritized to give all of the animal lovers/pet owners safe places to bring their animals. Check out our resource for more information on Modern Animal Control Strategies For Local Governments

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, Blog, GovInspect App, Civic Engagement, Public Health