- In September, we lost two extraordinary NRPA leaders: Donald Dale Henkel, 86, who passed away September 14, and Robert F. Toalson, 83, who passed away September 15. Henkel, who retired as NRPA’s Director of Professional Services in 1991, was a pioneer in the movement to create a true profession for those working in his field. He was instrumental in setting the standards for accrediting parks and recreation curricula throughout the country and establishing a national certification plan for professionals. Henkel was born in Oak Park, Illinois, graduated from Indiana University in 1951, and served two years in the Air Force before completing his master’s degree from George Williams College in 1955 and earning a Ph.D. in recreation administration from the University of Illinois in 1967. He loved photography and helped to produce the book Footprints that tells the history of Palisades Park, Michigan.
Toalson, NRPA’s 24th president, was born in Dodge City, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in political science in 1954. Upon graduation, he served three years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and went on to earn his master’s degree in park and recreation administration from Indiana University in 1958. This past August, Parks & Recreation magazine reached out to Henkel and Toalson to include some of their stories in the 50th Anniversary Commemorative issue of the magazine. For health-related reasons, Henkel was unable to participate but, through his wife, communicated his continuing love, pride and enthusiasm for the field. Following a year-long internship in the Philadelphia park system with Robert W. Crawford, one of the foremost distinguished professionals in the park and recreation field, Toalson moved to Oak Park, Illinois where he served as director of recreation for 11 years. In 1970, he became general manager of the Champaign Park District, and in both Oak Park and Champaign, he was awarded the title of Outstanding Citizen. He taught at Indiana University, the University of Illinois and Oregon State University, and co-authored Administration of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services with Dr. Lynn Rodney, professor at the University of Oregon. Click here to read more about Toalson.
- More than a dozen Staten Island, New York, parks will see improvements under a $285 million program recently announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. This includes the Community Parks Initiative — a citywide plan to improve historically under-funded parks in growing, impoverished neighborhoods — which will now receive an additional $155 million in capital dollars through 2019.
- The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation recently held a series of meetings to gather input on what people would like to see at a new county park, slated to transform the Puente Hills Landfill that has been closed since Halloween 2013. When it was in operation, this landfill was the largest municipal dump in the United States. Plans to turn Puente Hills Landfill into a county park are still in their early stages. The completed draft plan for the park will be presented in early December, with an environmental impact report to follow.
- Cape Coral, Southwest Florida’s largest city, will soon be better prepared for extreme weather with the installation of lightning detectors at 17 city parks. Currently, every park has one person designated to check the proximity of lightning strikes and alert everyone to take cover if they get too close. The city council approved spending $118,511 for the detectors and once they are installed, when lightning gets close — within 10 miles — a strobe light will flash and a siren will sound. The city says beefing up its lightning detection system has been on its to-do list for years, but the parks department didn’t have the money for it until now. The Weatherbug lightning detectors should be installed by January 1, a city spokesperson tells WINK News. Maintaining the system will cost the city about $12,000 per year.