The national park and recreation community has recently lost one of its leaders with the passing of Robert A. Lee, former superintendent of Iowa City, Iowa, Parks and Recreation. Lee, 95, passed away on October 17 after a lifetime of service in parks and recreation. In the early 1940s, Lee worked as a teacher and basketball coach in central Iowa before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942. After two years of honorable service in Europe, he returned to Iowa and his career in recreation. From 1946 to 1947, he worked as a program supervisor for the Waterloo Recreation commission, and from 1948 to 1951, he served as the first superintendent for the Cedar Falls Recreation Department. Following that term, he became superintendent of the Iowa City Recreation Department in 1951 and held that post until his retirement in 1983. A member of NRPA, Lee also served as president of the Iowa Park and Recreation Association in 1949 and 1966. He and his wife, Naomi, recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. NRPA and the park and recreation community remember Lee’s contributions to the field and the legacy he left, particularly in parks and recreation in the Midwest.
A recently released report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents the connectivity of wetlands and streams to downstream waters, with references to impacts on water-based recreational activities. These wetlands and streams support a range of fish and wildlife species as well as sportsmen’s ability to access high-quality hunting and fishing opportunities. Titled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters, the EPA report will guide development of a soon-to-be-released rule clarifying the federal Clean Water Act’s role in safeguarding the waters of the United States. According to the EPA, the report represents the state of the science on the connectivity of waters in the United States. According to sportsmen, the report and related rulemaking play a key role in conserving the streams and wetlands important to all Americans, especially hunters and anglers.
Architecture students in San Diego will still see their idea for a temporary urban park come to life, despite Mayor Bob Filner’s resignation. The recent graduates from the NewSchool of Architecture and Design came up with the idea for the park as a way to revitalize vacant lots downtown. They originally took the idea to one of Mayor Filner’s “Meet the Mayor” sessions, and he offered his support. Now the students are working with Civic San Diego and the city attorney to create the park that will house a beer garden, farmers’ markets, event space and a dog run. The team plans to start construction in November and hopes for a grand opening in December.
The Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission (GCPRC) in Michigan recently received a $1.8 million grant for general purposes from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to help offset funding shortfalls. The grant will allow GCPRC to maintain and strengthen its 21 county parks and programs. “With 11,000 acres of incredibly diverse natural features, the county parks are an important driver of quality of life in the region,” says Amy McMillan, the commission’s director. “They provide visitors with safe, welcoming places where they can play, learn, relax and have fun, oftentimes just minutes from where they live.”
Fremont Adventure Recreation in Fremont County, Colorado, tried a different sort of bike ride on September 22 by hosting its inaugural Bikes & Brews event. About 200 riders participated in the event, which featured a 100-mile bike ride that culminated in a beer tasting. The money raised from the event will be used to promote outdoor recreation in the county.
McLennan Park in Kitchener, Ontario, is sinking faster than anticipated. The popular suburban park has been touted as living proof that forsaken property — a former landfill, to be exact — can be transformed into a space that serves and enhances the local community. However, only two years after opening, the new restroom building had to be closed due to the foundation sinking by half a foot. Designers originally expected the land to sink at a rate of about one inch per year. The city plans to repair the foundation soon and hopes it will be a long-term fix, despite the fact that the land will continue to settle.
Cincinnati’s park system opened up deer hunting on specified trails at the end of September to help control the deer population. Jim Godby, who is in charge of land management for Cincinnati parks, says the system can typically support 15 to 20 deer per square mile. A count from last winter, however, showed 145 deer per square mile in an area where the maximum should be 35. People still call to complain about the practice, but Godby says he gets fewer calls than he used to. “People are becoming better educated about park health and deer health,” Godby says. “There are fewer Bambi fanatics.”
A New York state judge ordered the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to stop enforcing its recent ban on outdoor smoking. The judge agreed with a smokers’ rights group, NYC CLASH, that the state parks had exceeded their authority and that establishing no-smoking areas at all state parks was not supported by any policy set by the state legislature. The ruling required the state to take down any no-smoking signs that were erected after the ban was put in place. Audrey Silk, founder of NYC CLASH, said in a statement, “This is putting the prohibitionists on notice that, despite their ugly war being waged on adults who choose to smoke, they are not entitled to a free-for-all in governing when it comes to this segment of society.”
In Durham, North Carolina, what was once the New Hope Wastewater Treatment Plant was transformed into a community gathering place called Sandy Creek Park nine years ago. On October 19, the park celebrated recent improvements with an Environmental Festival complete with water-quality testing displays and guided bird and nature walks. The parks department describes Sandy Creek Park as historic because of its urban and industrial development roots and the three structures from its days as a wastewater treatment plant that still remain.The recent $7 million renovations to Elmwood Park in Roanoke, Virginia, include a 5,000-seat amphitheater perfect for concerts and events. While this type of renovation isn’t unusual, the management mindset behind it might be for today’s financial models. City leaders purposefully decided to keep the management of booking events there with the city’s park and recreation department instead of hiring an outside management company. Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend said the park wasn’t built with a “return on investment business purpose.” The decision is deliberate to ensure the community’s use of the park for festivals and nonprofits is put ahead of the venue’s commercial potential. Elmwood Park celebrated its opening ceremony on October 19.