INDIANAPOLIS – Tis the season to get out and visit your local parks and parks departments are highly anticipating your return after a challenging year.
“We were also scrambling to find out how to open pools, if at all. How to have day camps, if at all,” said Linda Broadfoot, the Director of Indy Parks when thinking back to this past year.
Reduced activities during the pandemic left parks departments across Central Indiana without the money they’re used to seeing.
Broadfoot reports roughly one and a half million dollars in lost revenue last year for Indy Parks.
“But that balances out a little bit with the expenses that we didn’t occur as well,” said Broadfoot.
Fishers Parks and Recreation lost about a third of their typical operations.
Greenwood Parks lost close to $700,000 last year. Although they continues its summer camp program and concert series. Greenwood Parks adapted to the pandemic by creating a YouTube channel to connect with people in their community.
In Carmel, the Monon Community Center, Extended School Enrichment program, and recreation programs saw a $5.2 million (48%) decrease in to earned revenue last year as a result of the pandemic.
“COVID-19 had a significant financial impact on Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, just as it did for many individuals, families, businesses, and units of government throughout the state and around the world. At the same time, we saw our physical park system thrive as people headed outdoors. We’re hopeful as we look toward this summer season with summer camps nearly full and The Waterpark set to open in late May. Our goal is to continue supporting our community with access to safe recreation and fitness opportunities.”Michael Klitzing, Director of Carmel Parks and Recreation
“It’s caused us to think on our toes and to pivot on the activities that we do and the engagement we have with the community,” said Sarah Sandquist, the Director of Fishers Park and Recreation.
And it’s the community that can help the parks departments make up for those major losses. Sandquist, says you can do so by renting spaces for events or attending camp.
“We’ve seen a huge uptick in people utilizing our park system,” Sandquist added.
Broadfoot added, “We are planning for a big, fun summer but it still won’t look exactly like normal.”
While social distancing and safety measures continue, local parks are hopeful for a better season.
“Everything is open,” said Sandquist, “And we’d love to see you out at the parks.”
“Keep it safe and clean as much as you can and remember that our staff is working really hard to stay safe and healthy themselves,” said Broadfoot.
Another way Indy Parks adapted their programming during the pandemic was through the meal service program. To help kids not attending school in-person, they ramped up efforts and served roughly 400,000 meals. They plan to continue those services.