The conundrum of park upkeep

The conundrum of park upkeep - as the Mayor sees it

One of the largest expense items on the budget for The District of Barriere is the care and upgrades for our parks. Some of our parks contain a good many improvements. They all require maintenance. Many of the park improvements such as the dugouts, concession, washrooms and the like have been revamped and rebuilt in the past few years. Some of this work was done by local service clubs and sports associations. Without their support some, if not most of these facilities would not exist today.

Recently I was asked why the care of the ball diamonds could not be done by the groups making use of them. The idea was that the sports associations would assume the care and control of the ball parks. They would maintain the ball diamonds and related structures in return for having the use of the concession. The money raised through the concession would offset any costs.

A number of questions come up. Which association would take this on? Since as of now none have applied I could not answer this. What happens if one association takes this on and does not allow other groups to use the diamonds? Until this actually happens why is this a concern?

If a group did come forward and took on the task certain rules would have to be followed. A little effort would have to be expended by everyone involved but potentially the savings to The District as a whole would be very real indeed.

At the last Parks Committee meeting Mr. Howard Bell attended. He patiently sat through the whole meeting until the agenda got to the Public Inquires portion. Mr. Bell then explained that he was there to ask for some assistance in removing a sizeable pile of debris that the residents in his neighbourhood had collected from the undeveloped parkland adjacent to their homes. The debris was not only untidy but constituted a fire hazard so he and his neighbours had collected it.

District staff was asked to have the pile removed as soon as was feasible. As luck would have it the task of hauling the pile away could be done quickly and with very little cost.

I personally applaud Mr. Bell and his neighbours for taking the initiative to “take the bull by the horns” and deal with the problem. Their hard work has made what would have been an unsightly mess into a space that looks nice and can be used as a park should be used.

As a result of the cost some communities only do the absolute minimum of maintenance on these neighbourhood parks. Quite honestly most times the space becomes an eyesore rather than the showpiece of the neighbourhood.

The cost of maintenance of a park is somewhat confusing. It is not simply the hourly wage cost of a parks worker travelling to the site and doing the work. You must add in the employer contribution for the parks worker, the cost of the equipment used and the cost of the administration of the worker. In some cases the cost of maintaining a basic no extras park like Oriole Park can run into hundreds of dollars a visit. This cost is per visit not per season.

The idea of Adopt a Road has been around for awhile. Groups or individuals commit to help clean up the roadsides as a part of giving back to their community. In some communities groups take on portions of the care and maintenance of parks and public spaces thereby reducing the cost to the community. In most cases this amounts to simply cutting the grass and making the area tidy.

The cost of maintaining our parks is covered by the taxes we all pay. Currently these costs continue to rise seemingly without end. Reducing these costs is an attainable goal.

The District plans to hire a parks worker very soon. If anyone has an idea to help reduce the required hours of work and resulting costs please contact the District office as soon as possible.

Anything can be accomplished with a little work and cooperation. We all need to set aside thoughts and memories that produce roadblocks to be able to go forward.