The proposed budget for the city’s parks won’t include money to pay for rangers to patrol the park system.
Park Director Ed Swicklas said that instead of asking for the park rangers, he’s likely going to seek more video cameras that can help officials keep an eye on trouble spots.
City leaders have said for several years that they plan to add three or four rangers to the park staff to make sure the millions of dollars spent renovating the parks succeeds in creating a vibrant, safe park system.
The spending plan for the parks hasn’t yet been worked out, but Swicklas told park commissioners that won’t be seeking a go-ahead to hire rangers in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July.
The parks have already begun a program to put video cameras in place on Memorial Boulevard and other spots where vandals have struck. They’re tied in to the city’s computer network.
It isn’t clear how many more cameras Swicklas may seek, but it appears that officials are interested in putting some at Rockwell Park, where a major renovation program is in the works that aims to pump life into the historic park.
Consultants have said that making sure the parks are safe and well-maintained is crucial for attracting residents into the park system in large numbers.
Most of the big ticket spending sought by the parks won’t be part of the departmental budget, assuming any of it makes the cut.
The capital projects list that park officials are eyeing includes another $4.5 million for the Rockwell Park renovation that’s underway now, $1.5 million in improvements at Muzzy Field, a $410,000 upgrade for Casey Field, $250,000 to enhance the entrance to Muzzy Field, $75,000 for new park signs, $2 million to overhaul Page Park, and $150,000 each for Kern Park and Pine Lake.
Officials are still considering a $10,000 bocce court at downtown’s Brackett Park and $25,000 for fencing a proposed dog run that might be put in at Rockwell Park. They expect to receive at least some of the funds from outside groups.
The department is looking to spend $2,400 to stock fish in the ponds at Rockwell Park, Memorial Boulevard and Page Park.
A tentative park budget should be ready by early February, with Park Board approval slated in mid-month.
The Board of Finance will begin reviewing the spending plan in March. A final city budget, which includes all departments, is approved in May.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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