Magazine article Parks & Recreation

A Blueprint for Your Budget

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

A Blueprint for Your Budget

Article excerpt


After years of using the same old space, your park and recreation department has received approval to renovate or build a new recreational facility. As always, money is tight. So how do you shave costs without jeopardizing what the community needs? Individual components and overall design can have a big impact on the bottom line, say recreational leaders and design professionals. They offer a range of tips to help reduce construction and operational costs, and get the most for limited construction dollars.


The sky is usually not the limit for any construction project. And what's above people's heads also represents potential cost-saving opportunities.

"Suspended drywall costs almost twice as much as a suspended acoustic ceiling or painted drywall directly applied to the underside of the roof structure," says John Dzarnowski, a principal at PHN Architects in Wheaton, Ill, which specializes in recreational facilities.

"Ceiling systems vary greatly and it really pays to investigate alternatives."

Agencies can eliminate the ceiling completely in favor or an exposed roof structure that adds visual interest as well as saves money, he suggests. For example, the Vernon Hills Park District's (Ill.) Sullivan Community Center uses exposed wood trusses to create an interesting look, warmed and lighted by skylights and windows. The Bolingbrook Park District's (Illinois) Annerino Center uses an exposed metal structure for similar cost savings, and a completely different architectural look than with wood trusses. The steel and glass atrium also joins the original portion of the building, built in 1974, with the addition constructed 25 years later.

The illusion of a more typical ceiling can be created through the use of pendant lighting suspended from the exposed roof structure, painted a solid color.

"You can create visual interest if you use lighting which has both an uplight and a downlight to it," Dzarnowski suggests. That effect was used when the Palos Heights (Illinois) Recreation Department remodeled portions of its building.

Dzarnowski points to another cost savings with exposed structures-saving money on mechanical ductwork.


Designers suggest using the least expensive floor finish possible for the maintenance of the area, although that doesn't always mean opting for the least expensive possible flooring. The Warrenville Park District in Illinois decided on sheet vinyl flooring with a wood appearance for its remodeled community room, rather than wood or carpeting. The Elk Grove Park District nearby did the same for the multi-purpose room in its new Rainbow Falls aquatic center and community center. Dzarnowski says that vinyl flooring is less expensive than wood and about the same as carpet, without the maintenance associated with carpeting.

However, it's easy to be penny-wise and pound-foolish, agency directors say. "We upgraded the flooring from vinyl tile to ceramic in our entryways and high-use areas, such as restrooms," says Warrenville Executive Director Diane Dillow. "It's much easier to maintain, and will last longer."

Likewise, the Waukegan Park District opted for a wooden floor in its new field house. "A wood floor can last 30 to 40 years if properly maintained," says Greg Petry, the district's executive director. "It's much more expensive than synthetic, but there are lots of benefits to the wood floor." With wood, it can be refinished if overuse causes damage, whereas synthetic only holds up for a certain period of time.

Petry warned against short-term thinking and savings. "People frequently base decisions on what is cheapest now, but they should also think about what's more economical for the long-term," he says. "It's hard in the public arena sometimes to justify spending more money for something. You have to evaluate the value spent for what you're getting and communicate that value to the customers and the community. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.