As we step into a new decade, it’s become impossible to remain oblivious to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Consumers speak, and businesses are increasingly responding by stepping up with sustainable measures. Yet amid this focus on green practices, you might find that local authorities aren’t increasing funding for city parks; in fact, budget cuts are far more common.
If you’re involved in managing a local park, this lack of funding can be especially frustrating. Here are some measures you can take to work around the issue.
Maintain high activity zones
Certain areas of a park are going to receive more foot traffic and be subject to wear and tear over time. If your park contains zones where people can play sports, such as baseball or soccer fields, the nearby facilities, such as showers and toilets, will be more frequently used.
To maximize your return on investment, any funds allocated towards the maintenance and repair of such high activity zones should be used to improve durability. Outdoor decks and walkways, which may be part of regular running or walking trails should be protected with cementitious waterproofing membranes. This helps you to adjust in response to how the public uses the park.
Look for new revenue streams
Just because parks receive some amount of public funding doesn’t mean that you should be limited to working with those resources. Additional income can be raised in other ways; you might just need to embrace a more commercial mindset.
Park facilities can be rented to local organizations or sports clubs with the budget. Corporate sports events could be held during weekends with a fee to reserve the facilities. You can also consider hiring out some of your full-time garden staff to property owners who need their landscaping expertise in taking care of their trees and gardens.
Reduce staff costs
For many parks, staff costs can comprise a significant portion of your budget. If you find that much of the work tends to be seasonal, then opting for a leaner organization with fewer full-time employees will help cut costs. You can hire temporary workers to help out in busy periods, such as the start of spring.
Another option would be to make use of shared services to fulfill some of your labor needs. Work with local authorities and other management organizations of green spaces in the area, and you can identify common needs for services that can then be fulfilled collaboratively at a lower cost.
Encourage public participation
Green spaces provide intangible value to the community, and ideally, this relationship should work both ways. By engaging with the locals who enjoy the park’s facilities every day, you can draw upon the goodwill and public support to fulfill part of the park’s needs.
Public participation can take many forms. Sponsorship is an option, while fundraising activities can also meet with seasonal success, but bringing in funds doesn’t always have to be the goal. Volunteer organizations and schools can organize efforts to help with cleaning up the park, or maintain the gardens, in exchange for a hands-on experience and some education on horticulture. Even small efforts such as those can be vital in making things work when you’re running on a limited budget.
As you strive to manage and maintain your local park, make the challenge ahead of you a little easier by thinking outside the box. Using these methods and brainstorming a few more will help boost revenue and reduce costs, and continue to preserve green space for your community.