Peak Parks

An additional area of collaboration has been with Basin Recreation, the county’s parks and recreation department. The two departments jointly administer and run youth baseball, soccer and basketball programs for the greater Park City area. Fisher says that “this is another area where duplication of services has been eliminated.

We could each be running competing programs, but the city and county have worked together to run one great program.”

In an effort to continue to promote regional cooperation, Park City’s city council recently eliminated the fee differential on all recreation programs. They also extended the discounted resident rate for Racquet Club use to residents outside the city limits.

“The impetus for doing this is that the county has put a lot of money up for recreation. It was time to get rid of any bad blood that had developed between the city and county and work more collaboratively,” explains Fisher.

“A facility in the planning stages is a joint ice rink where the city’s putting up $2 million and the county’s putting up $2 million. That’s really the future direction for us — to work together instead of building competing facilities. The county is also in the process of building an indoor field house that the city residents will be able to use without a fee differential.”

Peak Programming

Recreation and Services administers and runs most of the youth and adult sports leagues in Park City. There are also many competitive leagues that are run by private organizations.

The Recreation Department helps these organizations by acting as a field broker. The youth leagues that Recreation Services run differ from the competitive leagues in terms of philosophy.

“Our philosophy is that all the kids play; it’s about having fun. Private organizations run the more competitive leagues. It’s worked well for us, because the more experienced and talented kids can go to the more intense programs. It allows other kids that stay in the recreational programs to step up and improve their play,” say Fisher.

To help foster child development, Recreation Services joined forces with the National Alliance for Youth Sports, and started to run Start Smart programs, a parent-child sports instructional program for three to five year olds. Parents and kids attend and learn together, which has the dual benefit of providing sports skills to kids and teaching skills to parents so they feel comfortable practicing with their child.

“One of the biggest benefits of the program is that a child gains self-confidence and experience in the sport. This program eliminates the problem of a child’s first exposure to organized sports and being placed on a team. That can be a very intimidating experience for a child,” says Fisher.

“Another component of the program is to teach parents how to be good sports parents. It’s not about going out and creating the next major league ball player. We tell the coaches that they’ve done a good job if all the kids who played sign up for the next year.”

Karen Yocum, a recreation coordinator with Park City, created a program called Kook Koordinated Kids, which is based on the Start Smart model. In this program, kids work on large motor skills that are used in everyday life.

This is just one example showcasing the department’s ongoing commitment to employee empowerment, or as Fisher calls it, “self-motivation.”

“Sometimes adding new programs is a scary process, but the skatepark is a perfect example. The city built a skatepark, and shortly after it opened we were trying to figure out how to program it,” says Fisher.

When the skatepark was first built, Fisher noticed a subtle intimidation factor. Subtle, because the kids weren’t being bullied or made fun of, but the sheer skill of some would intimidate the less-skilled skaters. So the department began running paid clinics, closing the park to the public during those times (usually 8:30-10:30 a.m.).

“We had no skateboarders on staff. We’re all traditional rec people,” says Fisher. “We put an ad in the paper for skateboard instructors and we wondered who we’d end up with. We ended up hiring a great staff.”

The participants are divided by skill level, rather than age, because, as Fisher points out, there are some six-year-old thrashers out there. Instructional skateboard clinics are now one of the biggest programs Recreation Services offers.

“Last year we put over 150 kids through five weeks of clinics. This summer we will offer eight weeks and expect all eight to sell out,” says Fisher.

Adults community-wide are also encouraged to get involved. Recreation Services is now offering adult skateboard clinics. Fisher reports that the clinics have become an excellent revenue source as it becomes increasingly popular and inclusive.

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