Valparaiso has some beautiful parks and playgrounds for residents of the community to enjoy. Those parks wouldn't be nearly as perfect without a dedicated staff of groundskeepers and park employees staying vigilant on their upkeep and beautification.
Valpo Parks have gone from being active in mainly the spring and summer to being year-round hubs for activity. The department plans and executes 116 programs and special events each year! Plus, each of the 708 acres of parkland, 14 playgrounds, 27 athletic fields, and 18.75 miles of pathways in Valparaiso need care and maintenance throughout the year, meaning they are always in need of enthusiastic staff!
“We really try to find good quality people we can put in the right spot and keep using them year-round,” said Dan McGuire, Director of Special Projects and Event Operations.
The staff are responsible for various activities throughout the year. During spring, summer, and fall they mow any necessary grounds on the 708 acres of parkland. They also plant and care for over 18,000 flowers, take care of the bathroom facilities, and repair whatever is needed. During the winter months, they clean pathways and continue to care for facilities, some even work at the ice rink downtown helping with skate rentals or driving the Zamboni.
“We rotate people from ice skating at Central Park, then to golf operations. We’ve had a lot of people that are here year-round, part-time, and we do look for those people who have the passion and want to serve the citizens of Valpo. I know it takes special people to do that,” said Karen Mann, who handles payroll and Human Resources within Valpo Parks.
With so many beautiful parks to care for, the staff clearly enjoys their time outdoors and with each other. Many enjoy creating beautiful spaces for families to spend time together and the challenges each day brings. From work at the Banta Center, to mowing the lawns at Ogden Gardens, the staff sees a different area each day.
“I enjoy the people, the end-product of what you get out of everything, and how the public appreciates it. It makes their day and makes our day that we can put out a good product for everybody,” said Scott Furto, a member of the maintenance crews.
Currently in need of seasonal staff, Valpo Parks is excited to see new faces and give more people the opportunity to use parks and facilities. With a multitude of programs and more on the way, Valpo Parks plans to continue their growth, and wants to continue to give people the chance to grow with the organization. Dedication, hard work, and a love of the outdoors are all it takes to be a part of their energetic and enigmatic crew that breathes life into the many parks around Valparaiso.