Multi-Tasking In Maintenance

Editor’s Note: This column, “LBWA” (Leadership By Wandering Around), is based on the premise that, in order to find out what’s going on in the field, a parks and rec leader has to leave his or her desk and “wander around” the area of operations, talk to people, ask questions, and kick around ideas with the individuals in the thick of delivering services to the public. So the author will bring up issues and ask the leaders among the readership to share their knowledge and experiences. 

No matter what your definition of “facility” is, that facility must be maintained. Photo Courtesy of Randy Gaddo

When the editor of Parks and Rec Business and I were discussing the topic for this issue—facility maintenance—I realized the definition of a facility is a matter of interpretation.

I suggested I address maintaining shade structures; she preferred an article about maintaining indoor facilities during the winter.

In my mind, any amenity covered by a shade structure is a facility that needs maintenance year-round; in her mind, a facility has four walls, indoor features, and operating systems that need maintenance. We were both correct.

No matter how a “facility” is defined, maintenance is required. Whether it’s a sports complex, an aquatic center, a community center, a skate park, or a shade-covered playground—everything needs maintenance.

According to Roger Warren, Phillip Rea, and Scott Payne, the authors of Park and Recreation Maintenance Management, maintenance means keeping facilities and areas in their original state, or as nearly as possible.

To achieve a high level of facility maintenance, parks and rec professionals must be true multi-taskers.

In the book’s preface, Warren makes the point that “The knowledge needed to solve park and recreation maintenance problems must be learned from a wide variety of disciplines if park and recreation administrators and maintenance superintendents are to manage the areas and facilities under their jurisdiction.”

Indeed, 21st-century park professionals must be jacks-of-all-trades in fields one might not ordinarily associate with maintenance, such as hydrology, engineering, forestry, ecology, technology, and personnel management.

“Maintenance managers don’t have to be experts in all of these fields, but they must have some knowledge of each,” Warren writes.

He also notes that knowledgeable managers know when to seek advice from experts and must know enough to have constructive discussions with these experts.

An effective preventive-maintenance plan enhances safety by ensuring that critical systems and equipment function satisfactorily, thus reducing risk to the organization.

A well-thought-out plan also ensures compliance with regulatory agencies on systems that require that level of attention.

Technology can help a maintenance manager keep track of what needs to be done. Photo Courtesy of Randy Gaddo

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