Maintaining and cleaning over 800 acres of land is no small feat. Creating spaces that are not only pristine but also welcoming makes that task even more difficult. That is exactly what the Valparaiso Parks Department maintenance staff does day in and day out.
All of this work is handled by a small but dedicated team.
“There are 13 full-time employees,” Dan McGuire, facilities and maintenance director, said. “We have about another six to eight part-time employees depending on the season.”
This dedicated group is led by a long-time member of the Parks Department team.
“Our maintenance director, Dan Johnson, has been with the department for 40 plus years,” McGuire said. “He has a lot of knowledge and has seen the department grow and things change.”
Valparaiso Parks Department Executive Director John Siebert also praised the maintenance team for creating a wonderful backdrop for all the city’s park events and locations.
“People come to a program,” Siebert said, “and they'll see the program staff and the amenities but the first thing you see is what the park looks like.”
Not only does the maintenance team support operations and maintenance, they also support the large events Valparaiso has become known for.
“We can have a concert in Central Park Plaza that happened last night for 3500 people,” Siebert said. “By the next morning you would not know that anything happened there. The maintenance team will have cleaned it up and turned it over so that we can have a splash pad open for children and a pristine park for the next day.”
McGuire couldn’t agree more.
“On a Saturday we could have the farmers market in the morning and then by one o'clock we've flipped that park to have a benefit concert or an event,” McGuire said. “We’re very proud of what that maintenance staff and our team can do to prepare for all our events.”
This type of dedication from the staff is obvious year-round.
Recently, the Valparaiso Parks maintenance team supported the annual Popcorn Festival. Siebert and McGuire take great pride in documenting both the success of this event and the dedication of their staff.
“We always take a picture during the Popcorn Festiva when it’s in full swing,” Siebert said.
“Usually about four o'clock in the afternoon Central Park is packed with about 4,000 or 5,000 people. We show the same picture the next day at nine o'clock in the morning. By then the park is completely clean.”
As the seasons change, the Valparaiso Parks maintenance team is preparing for fall hayrides and the Central Park ice skating rink among others.
Anyone interested in learning more about Valparaiso Parks and its community offerings should visit its website.