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S25 Episode 031 Everyday Inventions for Better Parks


John Teper, one of the park operations managers for the Naperville Park District, shares some of the innovations that staff has developed to solve everyday problems. These include a dust shield for a baseball field groomer, a paint mixing station, floating islands of native plants in ponds and more.

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Quote from the episode:

“One thing that we’ve recently done with the opening of Wolf’s Crossing Community Park…there are a lot of trees out there that need to be watered. Making sure that all those trees get watered in for the first couple of years is very important to the future of the park. So one of our staff members approached me and said he was reading about a drip irrigation system. What we had been doing is watering from the back of a truck or with a gator bag. The drip irrigation system is a skinny plastic pipe that you could run for hundreds of feet and then you can have these other little pipes coming off of it going to each tree. And then all you have to do is turn on a switch and it slowly waters the tree throughout the day. So we are able to water 70 trees with the flip of a switch, which would take half a day to do by hand.” – John Teper

Wolf's Crossing Community Park multi-purpose hill. The park is home to 250+ young trees.Pond at South Maintenance Facility where staff is piloting the floating plant islands.
Park staff member Ben, former staff member Trevor, and John Teper with the ballfield groomer with dust shield.Dust shield in action

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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