Group Offers Recommendations To Improve City Parks
By JENNA CARLESSO
March 23, 2011
HARTFORD —— Over the next five years, the city should hire a top-level parks administrator to lead improvement efforts, expand volunteer training and programs and add workers to staff the parks on weekends, the city's Green Ribbon Task Force has written in a new report.
The 12-member task force compiled a list of 42 recommendations to improve the city's parks system, which has been presented to Mayor Pedro Segarra.
In addition to hiring a parks administrator and adding a weekend crew, recommendations include establishing a department of environmental services, combining parks and recreation services, hiring a grant writer and hiring a landscape architect to develop renovation projects.
"The grant writer will lessen the budget load for future development," members of the task force wrote in their report. "A single new crew of workers will significantly reduce the need for overtime and substantially enhance services before any of the more significant changes would occur in park services."
The city's parks services are currently part of the public works department, while recreation is under the department of health and human services. The task force has recommended making both agencies part of the public works department.
The total cost of implementing the recommendations was not addressed.
Any new hires and improvement efforts related to the report would be paid for with city money and with money from a parks trust fund, Segarra said. The city is facing a $17.8 million deficit in the next fiscal year.
Segarra said he is taking the recommendations "very seriously," but said there is no definite schedule for implementing them. Some recommendations coincide with ideas the mayor said he is already working on and could go into effect as early as this spring.
Segarra said he plans to meet with local parks groups to discuss the recommendations. Public hearings will also be held.
"This is a multiyear plan. We're not implementing everything at once," Segarra said. "I don't know exactly what shape it's going to take, but there needs to be a community response."
Some of the recommendations, such as infrastructure improvements, could warrant more research. Others would require ordinances and city council approval, Segarra said.
It's not yet clear how many new people would be hired under the plan. Segarra said some vacant positions in the city's public works department could be reclassified to suit the recommendations.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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