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Weather Double-edged Sword for Parks and Rec

Residents can call hotline to check on any cancellations

You might think this summer’s aberrant heat would be a problem for the Muskego Parks and Recreation Department.

After all, many of their workers toil outside.

And they sponsor events that are held outside.

The latest example: A post on the department’s Facebook site on early Monday afternoon announced, “Have been receiving phone calls about the weather and cancellations. We will be monitoring the weather and will make cancellations as necessary. If we do cancel it will be placed on our hot-line at 262-679-5645 and we will also post here. Make sure to stay hydrated!”

Not, to mention that, there’s a lot of grass to maintain.

But, according to Parks and Recreation Director Craig Anderson, the summer heat has proven an old adage- where there is a yin, there is a yang. He didn’t actually use those words of course. But Anderson pointed out that the heat has actually been a boon to the Parks and Recreation Department in some ways.

For example, the grass has “gone dormant” due to the heat, he said.

And that means that the city doesn’t have to mow, which has led to a drop in fuel costs. “There is not a lot of mowing going on,” he said. This is true of many homeowners, but the city has a lot more land.

And it’s not just fuel costs.

“The grass has gone dormant  so we don’t water our grass in any of the parks,” Anderson said.

And there have been, of course, no rainouts for Muskego summer baseball teams, he said.

Often such rainouts push baseball schedules into mid-August. Now, the teams are probably going to wrap up their schedules in a couple weeks, he said.

The Park and Recreation Department’s Facebook site does list some past cancelled events due to the weather.

“The only things that got changed were the tennis and tennis lessons in the evening. This was back when we had the humidity around July 4,” said Anderson. “And we cancelled a playground trip that was scheduled to Old World Wisconsin where kids would have been walking out and about in the weather.”

The weather has caused other precautions, though, due to the department’s heavy reliance on people working outside.

Those hired to mow are diverted to other duties like painting fences and garbage runs.

“That stretch where we had that week where it was excessive humidity levels, what we try to do for staff and things like that is we get stuff done in the morning hours and then as we go through the day we make sure they take breaks and stay hydrated,” Anderson said. “There’s not a lot of exertion done throughout the day.”

He said that the Public Works department faces the same issues with staff. “The things that may cause harm to someone's health are started in the morning.”

Then there’s public use of parks and beaches. Some people don’t have air conditioning, and overall the use is up, he said.  “There has been more activity.”

They have to watch parking on grass. “Without any rainfall, we have to be more careful going into parks with trucks and mufflers and all because of the heat of the vehicles and how dry the grass is,” he said. “There are little things to deal with like that.”

And of course there is a fire ban and fireworks ban in Muskego.

Anderson takes it in stride. “I think these are summers I was used to when I grew up,” he said. “I think people that may not have air conditioning may be using the parks in the evenings.”

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