By Jensen, Randy on June 4, 2020.
City parks might look a little shaggier and dirtier than usual this summer as the Parks department copes with reduced staffing levels and leaner budgeting requirements due to COVID-19.
“We are in a situation where with reduced staffing levels that we have to operate with, we have had to reduce some of our service levels,” explained Parks manager David Ellis to reporters on Wednesday. “Because we’re Parks we are very noticeable. We worked very hard over the spring to keep outside safe and usable by the public, but we are just going into spring where things are starting to grow rapidly. What we have cut back on will be noticeable by the public.”
The Parks department announced it would be cutting back on the frequency of mowing in parks, irrigation and litter pick up. It will also be cutting back on maintenance of sports fields and flower beds. It will not be turning on decorative fountains in parks and lakes. It will not be doing any string trimming or tree planting this summer.
“Our efforts have been to keep our living assets alive and healthy, and we have had to cut back on some of the aesthetic things,” Ellis said. “Our focus is we do what we have to do this year, and what we can do this year. The things we will focus on are if we didn’t do it this year is it going to cost us more next year? There are a number of things we have had to take into account to make the decisions that have to be made.”
Ellis said weed control would still be done, but at reduced frequency.
“Weed control will be reduced, but that is one thing if we don’t do it this year we’ve got twice as much to do next year,” he explained. “It is going to cost us more if we don’t do it; so we will be doing what we need to do in terms of weed and pest control because it will compound if we don’t do it.”
Ellis acknowledged some citizens might not be happy with the choices Parks staff have to make this summer when they see grass growing longer than usual or litter staying around longer on the ground in City parks.
“We’re not happy about it either,” he stated. “It wasn’t our choice to be in this situation, and we understand people’s frustration with the city not looking as nice as we try to keep it in normal years. We understand that, and we share that with them.”
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