The park and recreation community mourns the loss of Tim Mitchell, 49, former chief of the Chicago Park District (CPD) and longtime aide to former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He passed away at his home on December 3 after a period of poor health. A Chicago native, Mitchell began working with Daley during the 1980s when the latter was employed as a state attorney, and assumed an increasing series of responsibilities as he worked his way up in Chicago public service. During the early 2000s, Mitchell served as chief of infrastructure and operations for the Chicago Office of the Mayor until Daley appointed him to the position of chief executive officer and general superintendent of the CPD in February 2004. During the next seven years, Mitchell oversaw a number of improvements to CPD lands and facilities, including much of the restoration of the Chicago waterfront as well as the initial planning to convert the former Meigs Field Airport into a 78-acre nature park. He resigned from his position in June 2011 shortly after Daley left the mayor’s office, and spent the last few years working as a consultant and lobbyist. Mitchell is survived by his twin brother, Tom. He is remembered for his dedication to his beloved city and his commitment to providing top-notch parks for all Chicagoans.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) recently released Bike Parks: IMBA’s Guide to New School Trails, a guide for “how to plan, build and maintain successful bike parks, along with flow trails and other purpose-built bicycling facilities.” Bike parks are becoming more and more popular around the country, and they require specialized knowledge for their development in order to create a system that will attract new and returning riders and maximize available space and resources. Author Bob Allen, a Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee, offers real-world case studies that showcase schematics of plans put into place as well as their results, and more than two dozen expert contributors have provided essays offering advice and insight for readers planning a bike park for their community. The book also includes guidance on fundraising strategies, risk management, maintenance, operation and more. Copies are priced at $30 each — click here to order.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Parks Congress met in Sydney, Australia, in November for a once-a-decade event that convenes leaders from around the globe to find solutions and innovative ideas for public lands worldwide. More than 6,000 participants from more than 170 countries gathered for the weeklong conference, which focused on collective achievements for conservation during the past decade and helped to enable the next generation of leaders for success.
A massive fire in downtown Los Angeles has displaced hundreds of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks employees. Early on the morning of December 8, an apartment complex in downtown L.A. caught fire, and the radiant heat and water pressure from firefighters battling the blaze blew out more than 300 windows in the adjacent building, which houses LA DRP as well as other city agencies. No one was injured, but the city estimates that that damages are in the tens of millions of dollars and that the building won’t be reopened for up to six months. In the meantime, employees have been displaced to other office buildings throughout the city while crews clean up the mess and salvage what they can.
The seventh and final season of the popular NBC comedy Parks and Recreation will air from January 13 to February 25, concluding a series that brought attention to the field of parks and recreation. Although the TV show did not necessarily portray the lives or jobs of the thousands of people working in this field with accuracy, it did heighten awareness of the profession, and characters Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson have been adopted as unofficial mascots for the field.
In Dubuque, Iowa, city officials are considering a proposal that would restrict sledding, skiing and snowboarding to all but two city parks and recreation areas. On December 15, members of the Dubuque City Council voted 6-1 in favor of a partial ban that would limit these winter recreational activities outside of Allison-Henderson Park and Bunker Hill Golf Course, but they will wait to implement it until after they give the measure further consideration at their first meeting in January. Officials say the ban is necessary because state law doesn’t provide lawsuit protection for injuries sustained on public property while engaging in these sports.
A skatepark in Boise, Idaho, will receive a major makeover thanks to a $1.25 million donation from the Idaho-focused J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and a $300,000 contribution from the City of Boise. Funds will go toward a redesign of the skatepark, which was originally dedicated in 1995, and will also cover the installation of new lighting, landscaping and public art for the park, which should make the area safer and more attractive for people to enjoy. The Boise Skatepark Association has been advocating for fundraising to improve the park, which they believe will help make Boise a destination for the greater skateboarding community. Construction crews expect to break ground in summer 2016.
A new report by the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) finds that San Francisco’s parks provide close to $1 billion in annual economic benefits for the city. Peter Harnik, director of the TPL Center for City Park Excellence, wrote the report, which factors in the values added to the city through increased property values, tourism, direct use, health, infrastructure, social capital and more.