Top Trends for Parks and Recreation in 2023

Your citizens have high expectations for your community’s parks. With 2023 officially upon us, it’s an important time for Parks and Recreation professionals to look towards the industry’s top trends. Is your department prepared to meet them?

Conducting accessibility audits 

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Parks and Recreation has championed many improvements across facilities, parks, and other public accommodations, but the work is not over.

In 2023, Parks and Rec professionals should conduct an audit of their current operations to identify areas for accessibility improvements. Examples of recent accessibility improvement projects being conducted by departments across the United States include: accessibility playgrounds, barrier removal projects, solid surface beach and sand paths, and pool lifts and ramps installation.

Electrifying parks and recreation

Vehicle electrification has been a trending topic for years, but 2023 marks an important shift from planning and strategy to execution of organizations’ top electrification goals due to government mandates and cross-departmental strategic plans. While it’s easy to focus on electric vehicles (EVs) when talking about electrification goals, Parks and Recreation teams have a unique set of goals and challenges when it comes to electrifying their operations. In addition to fleet vehicles, there are many aspects of current operations that need to create plans to electrify, including facilities and buildings, power equipment, and landscape equipment.

These goals require more than acquiring electric- or solar-powered equipment and vehicles. Installing charging infrastructure takes significant capital investment, planning, and collaboration between departments and utilities.

Integrating parks and recreation, public works, and fleet systems 

Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and Fleet Management departments are generating more data than ever before through connected vehicles, maintenance management systems, and inspection reports. That’s why there is a major shift to integrating these systems in 2023 and beyond. When systems, including fleet management software, public works software, and inspection applications, are housed in one solution, it becomes easier to conduct analyses and limit manual data entry, which saves departments both time and money.

Is walking the next pickleball?

Pickleball is not new to Parks and Recreation departments, but its continued popularity in communities across the United States is impressive. Pickleball began as a low-impact sport played on community tennis courts but has exploded in popularity. Across almost all communities in the US, there are pickleball leagues for all ages, tournaments, and even fun merchandise and celebrity endorsements!

In 2023, pickleball isn’t going anywhere, but it’s important for Parks and Recreation teams to look ahead to the next big trend to sweep your community. If you spend any time on social media, you may have noticed an increase in walking content, especially with younger audiences. Walking clubs are starting to appear in major US cities like New York and Philadelphia. While many of these clubs are private, 2023 could be a great year for Parks and Recreation departments to capitalize on the trend too.

Parks for community wellness

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the globe flocked to their local parks to enjoy fresh air and social distance with their friends and family in safe, outdoor environments. As restrictions began to lift, the focus on parks remained high, which can often lead to spotlights on areas of your parks that need improvement to support community wellness. Examples of projects that can improve your community’s experiences in your parks may include path/trail/walkway improvements, increased community service opportunities, and increased sports leagues like pickleball, soccer, or kickball.

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