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Productivity & Program Evaluation of Municipal Parks

The park is a suitable setting that can stimulate reflection by its grandeur as well as complexity mixed with entertainment. The municipal departments can create enough revenues, if the parks provide untrammeled ecosystems to urban systems. From them, the municipal departments can increase their productivity in service-oriented sector with fewer revenues. However, in case of recreation by municipal departments one can expect a minimum from ecosystems and can find entertainment from aquatics, athletics and can even gain knowledge from seminars and webinars similar to the ones in CRPA. However, the parks and recreational facilities by municipal authorities can include YMCA, health, fitness centers, resorts as well as guide services. The authorities can engage in a partnership with private land trusts to ecosystems for urban people that entertain them with excitement in natural greenery combined with adventurous sports. The joint management of parks between municipal authorities and private managements can enhance productivity of municipal organizations and they can earn extra revenue, which is not possible by offering sanitary services and infrastructure. The productivity in parks and recreation of municipal authorities depend on the programs and timely modifications in them.

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Public Recreation

The programs in parks and recreation sites of municipal departments include the area or the portions that belong to Federal, state or local agencies, which is meant for public recreational use. Hence, it can be termed that, it is necessary for outdoor recreational parks to have ecosystems as well as other programs. The activities and programs include sports, physical activities, and exposure to natural surroundings. All the above-mentioned activities enhance mental and physical health of the visitors. However, arts and culture also can find place in programs according to the visitor turnout. Moreover, it is important to have programs and activities designed according to necessities of urban population. Hence, public authorities while using public spaces and facilities like parks as well as nature preserves for recreational activities, the urban population find a place for recreation. The open space areas, greenways as well as trails can be used for sports programs. The recreation through public parks can be easily provided by local municipal departments as they use the local staff and can generate more revenues thus increasing their productivity.

Productivity

The productivity of municipal parks and recreation comes from prosperity in the society. According to Jack, A. Harper and Brian L. Johnston (1992), the organizational efficiency depends on focusing on bottom line as it contains the major chunk of the expenditure. The increase in spending of urban people on recreation parks results in productivity for the programs of recreation parks and offers a chance to establish ecosystems in urban areas. However, productivity decreases, when revenues decrease though there is increase in spending by people. This implies the lack of cost-consciousness in the managers as well as the municipal departments. Hence, it is necessary to attract more visitors to a park without increasing its fixed establishment. If the fixed establishment increases, new programs should be introduced to increase the income and thus productivity with the help of visitor turnout. Hence, it can be understood that the productivity of recreation parks is directly linked with visitor turnout and the programs and the income from them depend on the recreation expenditures of the visitors as well as broad trends in municipal spending at different intervals. The important aspect of productivity in recreational and municipal parks is income generation through user fees. Hence, diversity and number of programs decide the amount of revenue and visitor turnout. Before 1990, there are many differences in public recreation provided in various municipalities in Western Canada. However, it is important to consider the per capita increase in providing leisure services compared to consumer price index. The revenues may decrease and the productivity may decrease if the cost of providing leisure services is more than consumer price index. Hence, there is necessity of changing the nature of the programs when the per capita cost of providing leisure services increases. To increase revenue in the wake of increase in per capita costs increase is to hike the user charges. However, if there is no remarkable change in the income of the people, the increase of user charges may not yield good results. Hence, the change in nature of programs also helps in sustaining or increasing revenues thus maintaining the productivity.

Moreover, the participation is important for the revenue incurred by recreation parks by municipalities. “NSRE is the latest in the united states’ continuing series of National Recreation Surveys, the first of which was done under the auspices of the outdoor recreation resources review commission in 1960. Design of the activity participation questions in the 1995 NSRE was kept consistent with previous National Recreation Surveys to enable us to describe trends in participation across a variety of outdoor recreation activities ” (H. Ken, Cordell and Gregory, R. Super 155). Hence, according to above quotes, it is important to have knowledge of the trends of participation to design the programs in recreational parks as well as attracting visitors to them. It is important to take opinion of the visitors about the programs to know about the change in trends. In addition to that the authors mention the federal assessment of outdoor recreation wilderness, which is being done every 10 years by the US department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service that can help recreational park managements to design programs according to the change of trends in participants. However, H. Ken, Cordell and Gregory, R. Super (2000) quote that the history of Outdoor recreation in US has always been an important part of the American Lifestyle, thus indicating the chance of enhancing revenues if the programs are according to the latest trends to attract visitors. The productivity enhancement in government-provided recreation can be observed after World War II, as before that only affluent people used to have outdoor recreation from recreation parks. “Following World War II, however, vastly improved transportation, the institution of time off for holidaying, indeed the growing popularity of taking family holidays, dramatic changes in work venues, spreading affluence and a host of other social changes, altered forever the role and significance of outdoor recreation in Americans’ lives” (H. Ken, Cordell and Gregory, R. Super 155).

Hence, after the comprehensive assessment of outdoor recreation after 1958, the results indicated that the simple activities are the ones, which are most popular. The programs like driving for pleasure, walking, and swimming entertain the visitors in metropolitan areas as much space is not available for them regarding the above-mentioned activities. The significance of productivity of recreation parks is evident from the fact that the 90 percent of Americans participated in some form of outdoor recreation in 1960. After 60s and 70s, in mid-1980s Reagan Administration’s task force on Outdoor Recreation found the continuous growth of demand due to fast-growing interest of American public to engage in outdoor activities. However, after year 2000, there is threefold increase in leisure time activity as the programs met the leisure as well as entertainment needs of urban population. The reason for the growth of turnout to recreation parks is the replacement of long-distance holidays by close-to-home recreation trips by American urban population as the recreation parks are nearer to areas they live. Hence, one should understand that the proximity of the parks to the urban population also acts as a factor for the increased visitor turnout. Urban population has shown interest in snow skiing, canoeing/kayaking, cycling in mountain terrain as well as camping in wilderness. Hence, long term trends indicate the fast–paced growth in technology-driven, adventure activities. Moreover, the participation trends indicate that 94.5 percent of Americans who are 16 years older or more than that, participated in some form of outdoor recreation during 1994/95. As the programs they attended are like walking for pleasure, sightseeing, picnicking, swimming in natural waters, fishing, cycling as well as bird watching, the recreational parks also included them in their programs and enhanced their revenues as well as productivity. 4

Programs and Productivity

In order to attract more visitors and to become more popular, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) provides training for college graduates also by collaborating with different agencies. The host agency, which provides training in such a manner, enables the intern to have a successful career and NRPA gets more publicity for its activities thus attracting more visitors to the park. However, it is necessary for NRPA or the municipal authorities to link the recreational and entertainment activities with the above-mentioned training activities to increase productivity as well as social responsibility.

Best Practices and Motivation

The best practices in leisure and sports activities in recreational parks are a result of demand as economic analysis of the demand depends on the relationship between commodity and quality. In the present case, the leisure commodity needs the resources, which make the large number of consumers accessing them with their incomes. However, time as well as income also decide the success of programs in the recreation parks, the best practices should concentrate on the above two aspects. “The income/leisure trade-off Neo-classical analysis assumes that rational utility-maximizing consumers are faced with a continuous choice over how to allocate their time between work and leisure” (Grattan, Chris 42).

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Hence, taking the above aspects into consideration, Government as well as private sector has considerable involvement in sport and leisure in a variety of ways. The involvement of government as well as private sector and their activities explain the economic rationale as well as problems and interventions. The identification of economic importance of sport and leisure as well as implementation of the programs accordingly can be termed as one of the best practices in recreation parks. Hence, the economic importance of sports and leisure comes to the fore regarding the afore-mentioned aspect. As both central and local governments estimated the economic importance of sports and leisure, the government as well as private expenditures resulted in substantial tax revenue from sport and leisure activities.

However, the purpose is not clear in the beginning when a national conference on state parks has been organized in 1921. Hence, misconceptions as well as diverse opinions resulted in conflicted motives and even confusion prevailed. Hence, after that the recreation parks resulted in city, state and country levels and the programs having recreational value as well as scientific uses. In this context, the management of recreation parks found it important to have different types of programs for various parks at city, state and country levels. Even the venues are two types; public and private. The programs in the parks concentrated on providing active recreation and as an extension to serve to expand automobile travel market. In the above context, the recreation parks are not as much popular as now. However, after that the programs are designed to advocate the preservation of national scenery and to provide aesthetic and spiritual gratification. Hence, the programs are a mix of auto camps, social safety valves and the places of restoring the soul of man as well as laboratories of natural science. The important aspect in the program evaluation is the proposal that the forest managers should stay out of the park and recreation business altogether. The park administrations followed and took cues from the ideas of NCSP to design programs, though it has no authority. Hence, the initial stages of design of programs in recreation parks did not have enough outputs from outside and were largely dependent on handful of professionals of NSCP. After airing the issues publicly, the public opinion about the programs in recreation parks came to the fore and thus resulted in incorporating public opinion to design the programs. From that moment, the public trends started to reflect in the programs of the recreation parks. Consequently, the initial contribution regarding opinions came from related professions. Notably the professionals regarding landscape architecture as well as academics gave their opinions for the design of programs. The opinions of academics can be seen reflected in programs of CRPA and NRPA in the form of seminars and workshops on crucial issues as well as the programs that result in personality development in youth. While designing the programs regarding the personality development of youth, the inherent aspect is to attract youngsters thus making them know about the activities of recreation parks. So that it may result in increase of young visitor turn-out in the future as well as increase in total visitor turnout, if the young people are capable of influencing their families regarding recreation. In addition to that the landscape architecture professionals’ opinions might have resulted in programs that preserve natural scenery as well as the sports activities that include outdoor auto as well as recreation regarding on the lines of horse riding and water sports.

The above discussion about the contemplations of programs in recreational parks in the initial stages indicates that the programs are designed according to the opinions of the professionals in the related sectors. After that, the visitor turnout has decided the way the recreational management thought about designing the programs. In addition to that the visitor turnout for different programs even decided the timing and placement of programs as well as their pricing. Hence, the programs in recreation parks took a diversified outlook to attract the visitors of all types and from all lifestyles.

History, Social Context and Productivity

From the above discussion, the importance of national as well as local and urban recreation parks comes to the fore and the reasons for the multiplication of parks since they first appeared in North America in early nineteenth century. As there is number of types of parks, they can be classified into; a landscape park, recreational beach parks and historical parks. “The first urban parks in the United States were relatively unimproved commons, places originally set aside for grazing cattle and training militias. New York’s original common is now the heavily gated City Hall Park” (Setha 34). The above quote indicates the development of commons into parks and Boston common has maintained its 44 acres into straight paved paths lined with benches crisscrossing the territory in a practical fashion. Initially commons used to be the landscapes of grass-covered ground with no shrubs, ornamental trees, flower beds and other plant varieties thus exhibiting the diversity of nature. However, in the course of time, they even developed recreational facilities, like tennis courts, ball fields, children’s playgrounds as well a seasonal skating/wading pond. The next stage in landscape parks can be best explained by Central Park in New York, which is designed with aesthetic formula that simulates the idealized North American countryside. Hence, the above landscape can be best suitable for recreation of urban population to spend their leisure time in a different atmosphere. However, the Prospect Park can be termed as the one that has been designed according to philosophical, theological and nationalistic sources. The belief that nature and natural scenery can lift the human spirits is the foundation of the above types of parks. However, the crowded urban spaces also helped in making the people attract to the above-mentioned landscapes.

Legislations and Establishment of Parks

As the importance and following for recreational parks are ever growing and the managements are changing their shapes as well as programs, legislation also played an important role in establishing them and Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota is best example for that. Signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on January 8, 1971, the park has got a tract of land along the northern boundary of the state between mouth of Vermilion River on the east and Lake of Woods on the west. However, in the above context, preserving the natural resources for the future generation as well as creating a recreation for urban people can be satisfied simultaneously, as the park offers recreation programs in a forest scene. The area has pine forests, minerals and water as dominant resource assets and government decided to develop it as a park despite the region’s entrepreneurs’ demand for a free hand in development as well as utilization. Hence, the development of parks resulted in productivity as well as preservation simultaneously. The development of expanding of urban regions around twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is also a reason for the increase of visitor turnout if there is any park in the area. Hence, it can be developed as outdoor recreation area that can give substantial income for development as well as preservation. “At this point in the state’s economic history, logging interests were engaged in a highly profitable enterprise removing timber from the pineries of North Eastern Minnesota- an activity restrained only by the status of marketplace at the moment” (Fred T 20). Hence, the establishment of outdoor recreation parks even stopped the degeneration of natural resources and trees due to unrestrained logging down.

Leisure and Recreation

After discussing the history of recreation parks as well as their advantages, the human behavior that shapes the recreation also comes to the fore, which decides the programs of the recreation parks. Play is part of recreation, which is either physical or mental activity people choose to indulge in for their own sake. The intrinsic value and personal meaning for each individual about play is a reason for turnout at outdoor recreational parks and the programs in parks reflect the play moods of the people of all ages from children to elders. “The major outcome of play is a feeling of regeneration. One is revived” (Torkildsen 45). Hence, recreational management created situations and promoted factors that give the opportunity for play to occur and limit those factors militating against it. As spirit of play is in everybody, the management of leisure resulted in recreation management leading to urban recreation parks. To control and regulate the activities, the programs are designed according to the play spirit of people of all ages and walks of life. The provision and management of recreation in parks with natural environment have been extended to additional facilities like sports and the programs, which have play that is physical as well as mental. The physical sports can even be programmed in a natural environment like mountains and winter snow as well as seas and sky. However, the play programs in park took care that the visitors behold the beauty of surroundings and considered it as part of recreation. Hence, the man-made additional resources for leisure and recreation assumed greater importance and resulted in having new sources of income as well as the ways of protecting the environment.

Changes in Programs

From the above stage of making the recreation parks centers for environment protection as well as revenue sources, the parks like NRPA are offering aquatic facilities as well as operator course in water sports. Despite offering water sports, occasionally, the parks are offering in-depth instruction in all facets of aquatic facility operations as well as its management. The two-day course contains filtration, disinfection, water testing and treatment, design considerations, facility management and risk management. Moreover, troubleshooting and spa operations are also part of aquatic facility course. Hence, the programs had a continuous shift from natural parks to natural scenery areas via outdoor recreation activities to water sports. Then the programs are designed are in the form of coaching activities to enhance productivity. However, the aforementioned programs are more productive than the ones discussed previously as this earns revenue from the fees collected from the aspirants. The above program of training is designed specifically to attract the working public towards the parks. Moreover, the course attracts employees of aquatic facilities who want to elevation in their career. In addition to above activities, there is aquatic therapy program for children with special needs to control diseases. Hence, the recreation and entertainment turned into coaching as well as health provider thus making a revolution in program design. Due to increase in competition as well as the needs of the people programs of NRPA are targeting the designing shoreline parks for people, fish and wildlife. Hence, even the development of parks and facilities are part of the programs of NRPA and thus they integrate recreation with needs of fish and wildlife. As the fish and wildlife are rare scenes in urban life, the facilities regarding them can be the places of satisfying the needs of recreation users and developing them has resulted as a program for NRPA.

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In addition to that CRPA is offering webinars at the desk of the enthusiasts, regarding different aspects. One such aspect is regarding communications, which enables a person to deal with different people. The course, which is being charged for $35 concentrates on behavioral styles that control aggressive nature as well as talkative and lacking direction natures in a person. Using DISC system, the course helps to develop skills of communication, cooperation and collaboration between employees and clients. The course identifies behavioral characteristics like dominant, interactive, supportive and cautious styles and exhibits the way to relate better with others in each style. The responses for different styles of management finds emphasis in the course and one can develop negotiation, collaboration as well as customer service objectives. One can develop and evaluate him/herself with this program. This program is a productive one and can even be termed as revolutionary as it enables to earn revenues without using the space at CPRA as it offers the program at the computer desk of the consumer.

Moreover, the CRPA conducts events like Youth Summits, to increase visitor turnout for recreation parks by making them the guest speakers and offering scholarships. The program concentrates on improving leadership styles and can strengthen their communication skills. One can even concentrate on organizational strategies. The ideas of youth and involvement of municipal organizations in them find exploration in this summit and the participants are provided overnight accommodations. The program concentrates on attracting more youth as well as elders in the form of chaperones towards the activities of CPRA.

Evaluation of Programs

From the above discussion it is clear that the nature of programs and the way the parks are being maintained changed from the period of their initialization to date. In the beginning, the common empty lands were used as recreation parks by developing natural sceneries, which are not available to urban population. Hence, people turned out in large numbers. However, when the entertainment opportunities increased, it has become inevitable for recreation parks managements to attract people with more facilities and innovative programs. Hence, they used the vast spaces in park for programs relating to outdoor recreation like horse riding and natural aquatic facilities as well as garden sports. The next stage is about recreation parks nearer to the living areas and that prompted the management of the parks to attract visitors with artificial facilities for water sports and other entertainment activities like rides and video games. In a short period after the above changes, the managements found it very competitive to attract the visitors due to myriad parks available to people and tried to attract them with innovative programs. They even tried to attract the visitors by arranging yearly once or twice exhibitions as well as seminars, training courses as well as webinars. The webinars conducted by NRPA helped the association to enable the tech-savvy employees to know about the programs of the recreation parks and thus wooed them to their programs and facilities. Moreover, youth summits are arranged to encourage the creative skills in children and youth and thus gaining popularity by offering them scholarships. The productive activities of parks associations even had some training programs, which charge fees for the course. However, the inherent aspect of the programs and the theme of recreation parks is to protect environment and getting revenues simultaneously. As protecting environment is a costly process, developing a recreation park with natural sceneries as well as facilities can give revenue and a forest like environment in between urban spaces, thus creating a cover to avoid environmental pollution. Hence, the municipal authorities and their parks and recreation (P&R) departments found new avenues for their services other than providing infrastructure and sanitary facilities for the people. When there is enough time and space after providing infrastructure and facilities, the municipal authorities started concentrating on outdoor recreation and development of parks. This resulted in new source of income and productivity as well as employment opportunities as the recreation parks need more employees other than the ones who look after the infrastructure as well as sanitary facilities. Hence, the recreation parks and their programs resulted in increase in productivity as well as entertainment for urban population.

Sustainability of Recreation Parks

In the above context the environmental management also comes to the fore in the wake of increase in number of recreation parks for outdoor recreation. Hence, the natural greenery developed in the parks included the concepts of ecosystem management, sustainability and adaptive management. As environmental management should integrate ecology and society, the recreation parks with green environments can make that aspect possible with reasonable income for the expenditure incurred. As the management of environmental benefits for the present generation cannot preclude the benefits of future generations, the recreation parks serve the dual purpose of entertainment and environment as the programs can be changed according to the time and entertainment needs of the people simultaneously preserving the forest landscapes of the parks. Hence, the recreation parks should consider the carrying capacity of parks, which relates to the green atmosphere in parks and visitor turnout. Hence, it is necessary to fix the charges to allow only the number of visitors, which is less than the carrying capacity of the park. If the management wants to increase the carrying capacity it is important to increase the greenery as well as carrying capacity of the park. The above aspect can preserve the ecological balance as well as the sustainability of satisfaction of entertainment needs of the people.

Bibliography

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Jensen, Clayne. Opportunities in Recreation and Leisure Careers. Lincolnwood, IL, USA: N T C/Contemporary Publishing Company, 1999. Print.

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Low, Setha. Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity. Austin, TX, USA: University of Texas Press, 2005. Print. Pp. 34-37.

Manning, Robert E. Parks and Carrying Capacity: Commons without Tragedy. Washington, DC, USA: Island Press, 2007. Print. Pp. 246-249.

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Witzig, Fred T. Voyageurs National Park : The Battle to Create Minnesota’s National Park. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. Pp. 18-20.

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