Parks and Recreation Services

Manage and Minimize Risks of Parks and Recreation Services

When members have land designated for park use, they must make decisions for how best to use the property: Will it be left natural and unimproved? Should trails be added? A playground?

Recently, parks have been incorporating new forms of recreation that were relatively unknown 20 years ago: disk golf, mountain biking and off-leash dog parks, to name a few. Regardless of the improvements members make to a park, they should be well-planned to mitigate risk and liability.

Parks and Recreation Loss Prevention Best Practices Guide Park and Recreation Loss Prevention and Best Practices Guide cover image

MCIT developed the Parks and Recreation Loss Prevention Best Practices Guide to assist its members in planning, maintaining and expanding their parks and recreation services. The guide provides information and recommendations for park safety and ways to protect the public entity from liability and loss.

Whether starting with new parkland or adding onto existing property, this guide is designed to help members make informed decisions about how to protect the organization and park users.

Guide Addresses 3 General Areas

  • Immunity defenses related to parks and recreational areas: Members should make themselves aware of immunity defenses, as improvements to the land and other courses of action may affect the strength of the immunity.
  • Risk management: From working with volunteers to improving facility use and other written agreements, these topics cover a wide range of issues that could potentially be open to risk exposure.
  • Loss control recommendations: Safety concerns related to activities and structures commonly incorporated into parks are discussed.

When appropriate, references to additional resources have been included to help manage risks associated with park and recreation operations.

Further Discussion and References

  • Members are encouraged to contact their MCIT loss control and risk management consultants when they have questions regarding park operations from a safety and risk management standpoint.
  • Members should work with the county attorney or other legal counsel when setting up policies and procedures to ensure the entity is in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.
  • The Resource Library includes a number of articles about managing the risks of volunteers, government immunities and other concerns related to operating parks and recreation services.