Notable News

May 1, 2015, Department, by National Recreation and Park Association

- In celebration of Earth Day, Mayor Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg, Florida unveiled solar-powered charging stations as a new feature of the city’s Sunlit City Parks program. The charging stations feature four enclosures for users to store and charge mobile devices such as phones and tablets. In addition, the charger’s controller has optional capacity for programmable nighttime lighting or other power needs that can be added to the station. SunSure Living, a local St. Petersburg company, designed the charging stations and city employees were responsible for manufacturing. Each station costs approximately $2,500 including fabrication and installation.


- On April 29, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich and Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind introduced legislation aimed at connecting youth and families with the outdoors. The Health Kids Outdoors Act would support state, local and federal strategies to reconnect Americans with nature, keep wildlife wild and support future economic growth and conservation efforts. This legislation, which is supported by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), will give more visibility to the value alternative and expanding learning environments can have in significantly improving academic achievement in reading, math and science and will encourage kids and families to be active outdoors through unstructured play. It would provide incentives for states to develop five-year strategies to reconnect children and families to the outdoors. It would also compel the development of a similar plan at the national level and support future research documenting the benefits of active time spent outdoors.


- Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a controversial law allowing gun permit holders to carry their weapons in municipal parks. The law, which went into effect upon signing in April, blocks any local bans barring permit holders from carrying guns in parks. While some Tennessee residents consider the move by Gov. Haslam and the state legislature to be a victory for the Second Amendment, other residents are left questioning the safety of their parks. Tennessee state law previously allowed each county and city to decide whether to allow guns in parks.


- On Earth Day 2015, the Hildebrand Foundation went public with a $10 million parks pledge to the Houston, Texas Parks Board. The grant supports the creation of a system of connected, linear parks and trails along Houston’s major bayous. This is part of the Houston Parks Board program, Bayou Greenways 2020, which will add 1,500 acres of new park space and 80 miles of new all-weather hike and bike trails. Currently, most of the existing parks in Houston are located in affluent neighborhoods. However, this new plan will put parks into all neighborhoods of the city, allowing anyone easy access to green space. The end goal is to make Houston one of the top “quality of place” cities in America.


- NRPA member George Phifer has been named director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks in Michigan. As director, Phifer serves as the chief executive officer and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. Prior to his promotion, Phifer served as deputy director and chief operating officer of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. As deputy director, he was responsible for the overall administration and operation of all 13 Metroparks. In 2010, Phifer was appointed executive secretary to the Board of Commissioners, serving as a staff officer of the agency. He first began working for Metroparks in September 2008 as the chief of police, a role which he still fulfills today.


- In an effort to create a “HeartSafe” community, the city of Meridian, Idaho recently invested an estimated $54,600 in 39 Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) and placed them in 12 of the 25 Meridian patrol cars, 13 Meridian Fire Department rigs and 14 Meridian city parks for citizens to use. There are also additional AEDs at the Meridian Community Center, the Parks Maintenance Facility and three mobile AEDs. Other cities that have worked toward creating “HeartSafe” communities, including Seattle and San Diego, have boosted heart attack survival rates up to 56 percent.