prepping the parks

In Mt. Lebanon, parkland takes up about 200 acres in 11 parks, including five ballfields, eight basketball courts, eight children’s play areas and six picnic shelters. Phil Avolio, the public works department’s facilities and parks coordinator, works closely with Dan Kirk, public works superintendent, to make sure the parks are ready for warm weather pursuits.

Kirk assigns one or two public works laborers for park duty beginning as soon as the winter weather breaks. The initial work involves cleaning up leaves, dead tree branches and any other winter detritus, weeding the planters and checking on the condition of all of the pavilions, walkways, grills and other structures. The laborers make a list of trees that need attention and turn that information over to public works’ three-man forestry crew, which also does trail maintenance to remove hazards or items that block passage.

Playgrounds get special attention, not just pre-season but on a monthly basis.  Avolio and public works’ Tony Mazurek are both certified playground safety inspectors, having successfully completed the week-long course conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that covers topics such as identifying potential safety hazards and implementing a risk reduction program, as well as routine repairs and maintenance. They regularly conduct a 20-point inspection of each playground, assessing the condition of the equipment and play surfaces, looking for tripping hazards, ensuring there is no rust (continued, pg. 12)   or missing hardware and that all barriers and guardrails are in good condition. Avolio is working to track the inspections on a database. “We’re working on a full listing of equipment, down to each nut and bolt,” he says.

Once everything in the parks is primed and ready for warm weather, there is still a lot of day-to-day work that goes on. Public works budgets $474,140 for ongoing maintenance and repairs in the parks, including mowing the grass at least once a week, scheduling equipment inspection and maintenance and controlling weeds and invasive plants. Contractors cut the grass in the parks and on the ball fields.

Work crews empty trash receptacles every day in all of the parks. While there, they check to see if something’s broken or out of order, or if any yellow jackets, poison ivy or any other pesky things have taken up residence.

Although public works employees are in the parks regularly, they need residents’ help identifying problems, If you are at a municipal park or recreational facility and see something that is broken or looks like a safety hazard, please report it online at myLebo, under “Service Requests.”  Public works will address the issue.