A New Year With New Insights and Fresh Ideas

December 16, 2021, Department, by Vitisia Paynich

Vi Paynich 410

For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine.

There’s nothing like the start of a new year. It’s a time for new insights and fresh ideas for elevating the park and recreation profession. From an editorial perspective, it’s also an opportunity for our thought leaders who have their finger on the pulse of emerging trends to share what they’ve gleaned within the pages of this month’s issue.

In the cover story, “Plan Z for Miami,” on page 34, past NRPA Chair and former board member Jack Kardys provides an overview of an ambitious project designed to dramatically enhance the quality of life for 2.8 million Miami-Dade, Florida, residents and 16 million annual visitors to the Rickenbacker Causeway, as well as serve as a case study for other cities and communities across the country that imagine their own park-centric urban master plans. Plan Z is a public-private partnership proposal for the Miami LOOP, which is a 225-mile trail concept that would offer more transportation options, as well as make bike and pedestrian trails safer and more equitable. “The creators of Plan Z have envisioned this multi-modal plan as being an integral part of the Miami LOOP, which would connect the mainland’s Commodore Trail, Underline, Ludlam Trail and Miami River Greenway with Biscayne Bay and its waterfront along the Rickenbacker Causeway,” Kardys writes.

Next, Parks & Recreation Editor-at-Large Richard J. Dolesh offers the much-anticipated “Top Trends in Parks and Recreation for 2022,” on page 40. This year’s trends touch on park infrastructure, climate change, workforce retention and technology. Dolesh also addresses the challenges affecting today’s youth sports. “Multiple studies have found that there has been a sharp and continuing decline in youth sports participation,” he points out. “Concurrently, there also has been a steady decline in physical activity by youth.”

Lastly, we hear from another expert in the field, Neelay Bhatt, vice president of PROS Consulting Inc. and a former NRPA board member. In the feature article, “Next Practices for the Post-Pandemic 2020s,” on page 46, Bhatt takes a closer look at how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has altered the field of parks and recreation. What’s more, he identifies key “next” practices in recreation programming, placemaking, financing, as well as experience building. “Park and recreation departments must look at every aspect of their system and ask themselves, ‘Is this an offering or is this an experience?’” Bhatt writes.

Hopefully, this month’s issue provides many valuable takeaways that you can share with your park and recreation staff. Most importantly, may 2022 bring you much inspiration and continuous success as you faithfully serve your communities and constituents.

Vitisia Paynich is NRPA's Director of Print and Online Content.