The community of Roanoke, Virginia, mourns the loss of its Parks and Recreation Director Steven Buschor, who died at home, June 6, surrounded by family and friends. “This community is where it is today in terms of quality of life and recreation...because of Steve Buschor,” said Roanoke Mayor-Elect Sherman Lea. “It’s a very sad day for this valley because Steve was so instrumental in a lot of what we did in this community.” Born in Delphos, Ohio, Buschor earned a bachelor’s degree in Community Recreation Administration from The Ohio State University and also served as an athletic trainer for Ohio State athletics where he earned his 1975 Rose Bowl ring. In addition to being an NRPA member, he was a past member of the board of directors for the Virginia Recreation and Park Society, and past officer of the American Parks and Recreation Society, Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, and Ohio Parks and Recreation Association. A passionate public servant, dedicated to his community, Buschor also served as a judge for the 2015 Miss Virginia Pageant.
- The renovated 1.5-mile stretch of St. Louis riverfront below the Gateway Arch opened to the public June 9. To limit flooding, this stretch along the now two-lane Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard was elevated an average of 2 feet. Old chains and cobblestones, original to the site, are incorporated in the new look, which now also features bike racks, benches, LED lights, new signage, power outlets and a street-level stage to host events and programs. The renovation, which began in December 2013 and cost about $25 million, is part of $380 million worth of renovations and upgrades around the Gateway Arch. The project was paid for with a mixture of federal dollars and local sales tax that funds the Great Rivers Greenway District.
- The U.S. Department of the Interior recently designated Tulsa, Oklahoma’s 300-acre Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area as National Recreation Trails. According to River Parks Authority Executive Director Matt Meyer, the designation of the 6.7 miles of marked trails “is a great feather in our cap. It shows that we have great recognition for the importance of the Turkey Mountain trails.”
- North Providence, Rhode Island, became the sixth community in the state to pass a ban on smoking in all town parks and recreation areas, with one key exception: e-cigarettes will still be allowed to be smoked in the parks. The town council’s ordinance committee revised the rule to exempt e-cigarettes based on there being no conclusive evidence about health problems associated with e-cigarettes. The new smoking ban updates a 1997 ordinance, but the original fine of $100 for breaking this rule remains unchanged. The measure now goes before to the full town council, which is expected to easily approve it.
- In early June, National Water Trail status was conferred on Indiana’s Kankakee River by the National Park Service and the Department of Interior. The river, once part of an almost million-acre marsh that teamed with wildlife, was dredged in Indiana a century ago but still boasts fish, birds and wild shores. The newly conferred status will draw extra attention to the 133-mile Kankakee, which flows through Indiana and Illinois, and could result in more access to and better care for the river.
- After six years as Leisure Services Director for Athens-Clarke County, Pam Reidy left on June 24 to assume the role of Director of Parks and Recreation for Greenville, South Carolina. Under Reidy’s leadership, the Leisure Services Department earned a number of honors and awards, including being named “Agency of the Year” four times by the Georgia Recreation and Park Association, and undertook and completed a number of projects, including the construction of a Tennis Center at Southeast Clarke Park and the Sandy Creek Nature Center Visitor Center and exhibit expansion, to name a few. Among her accomplishments, Reidy points to department-wide systems and operations improvements, particularly in the areas of finance and park maintenance, that helped to create better service delivery for the public. Internal Services Director Kent Kilpatrick is currently servings as Interim Department Director following Reidy’s departure.
- A new paper, titled “Rural Families Speak about Health,” co-authored by Kimberly Greder, an associate professor in human development and families studies at Iowa State University, shows that many rural families often don’t have usable outdoor space in which to spend quality family time. Greder, the lead researcher in Iowa for this study, which is being conducted in 11 states across the country, is looking at how low-income, rural mothers go about keeping themselves and their families healthy and what community resources are available to support their efforts. Specifically, beginning in 2011, close to 100 mothers of low-income families in rural communities in southeast Iowa were interviewed, and continue to be followed up with, for this study. There is often a perception that families that live in rural communities have access to nature and the outdoors. “The reality is that’s not always true,” Greder said. Difficulties in rural communities to having access to the outdoors include having access to parks with age-appropriate equipment, having well-maintained sidewalks and trails, and having affordable pools. Transportation expenses also limit low-income families from experiencing outdoor recreation. Click here to read more about this study.