Campus recreation departments have many focal points competing for attention such as programming, staff and facilities. The current post-pandemic climate draws attention to programming and staff, each intertwined and dependent on the other to function well. Facilities can easily fade into the background and turn into a lower priority costing more in the long run.
The Department of Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) at the University of North Florida is navigating the upkeep needed for aging facilities and establishing operations for new or newly renovation facilities. RecWell has seen significant capital growth over the last couple of years. Since 2021, about $10 million in new facilities or facility renovations and current renovation projects in progress total $2 million.
Inspiration for Facility Inspections
One of the current projects in progress is a recreation field, and it was the inspiration for formalizing facility inspection routines.
This student recreation field is adjacent to student housing and across campus from the main RecWell facilities. The condition of the field had progressed to:
- Two of the four sides of the fence were consumed by the tree line.
- The aging light system was in need of costly semi-annual repairs.
- The tree line consuming the fence allowed for more pest intrusion impact on the field and a decent rate of lost balls by our club rugby and lacrosse teams.
The worst part? This was preventable if a mow-line around the fence had been maintained. The aging light system became a financial challenge to estimate what repairs would cost annually. While we cannot keep equipment and facilities from aging, we can put systems in place to maintain them, maximize useful life, to address repairs and replacement in a timely manner, and to better budget for facility needs — and this is the basis for the visual inspection checklist.
The Inspection Checklist
Per facility, the major areas are listed down a checklist to note “acceptable” or “needs attention.” Anything needing attention is communicated up the chain of command and work orders are created to correct it.
As an example, our visual inspection for the recreation field includes these categories:
The frequency of inspection is left up to the area manager and is based on the season and facility use. Minimally, we look for these to be completed quarterly. Considering each of these categories allows RecWell staff to better communicate with grounds for turf concerns; make sure bleachers are safe and in good repair; inspect lights for bulbs out; maintain fence line and replace non-functioning locks important for security; examine goals and nets for safety and good condition. The documentation of these forms becomes a record that over time will provide data to inform on annual budgeting for facilities repairs and equipment replacement.
Now, all of our facilities have a system in place to maximize useful life through being more aware of preventative and routine maintenance, identifying repairs needed and starting the work order process, identifying wear and tear to anticipate timely replacement of equipment, and records to better inform on facility budget needs.