City of Jacksonville


Parks Task Force Committee

Minutes of August 12, 2004 Meeting

I. Date, Time, Place, Attendees

A. Date, Time, Place of Meeting

Date of Meeting: August 12, 2004

Place: Blue Cypress Community Center

Time: 8:30 AM - 11:45 AM

B. Attendees

  1. Anna Dooley
  2. Derek Rowan
  3. Walt Bussells
  4. Robert Joseph
  5. Mark Middlebrook
  6. Christian Harden
  7. T.R. Hainline
  8. Lanny Russell
  9. Barbara Goodman
  10. Bob Baughman
  11. Susie Wiles
  12. Obi Umunna
  13. Ernest Burkeen
  14. Rufus Pennington
  15. Mike Saylor
  16. Trish Gramajo
  17. Philip Bruce
  18. David Stubbs
  19. Lynette Self
  20. Coen Purvis
  21. Richard Skinner
  22. Gail McMorries
  23. Elizabeth Kohler
  24. Suzanne Jenkins
  25. Art Graham

II. The Meeting

A. The group met at the Blue Cypress Community center for an organization meeting, a presentation by Ernest Burkeen, Miami Parks and Recreation Director and a presentation from City Councilmembers Lynette Self, Suzanne Jenkins and Art Graham.

Elizabeth Kohler informed the Committee that the Preservation Project legislation passed through City Council, and PPJ is moving forward with the purchase of four parcels of preservation parkland. PPJ is also working to complete the Preservation Master Plan by the end of August 2004.

Rufus Pennington introduced guest speaker Ernest Burkeen. For nearly a decade, Mr. Burkeen directed the Parks Department in Detroit. He directed the Parks Department in Ft. Lauderdale for three years, before he was lured away to the post of Parks Director for Miami, Florida where he oversees over 11,000 acres of park space. He said one of the main problems across the board is that money can be found for programming, but money cannot be found for maintenance. He stated that all departments should inventory all existing facilities. Outside contracting is not always the answer. It can become costly and time consuming. The most important thing is for parks departments to be able to set parameters and to have a budget separate from the general fund. Long-range planning / funding is key. He encouraged everyone to find out the needs of the community and the children and update the City's programs according to the findings. In his view, teenagers need programs the most. One is never done developing a park. One recreation program he suggested was to host 'lock-ins'. Find the interest of the youth and develop a program around that interest, such as scuba diving, sewing, physical fitness programs, etc. If you give the children an alternative, they will participate. With programs, comes value. There has to be value attached to everything offered. Mr. Burkeen is in favor of charging for these events. In the Intensive Care areas, scholarships can be offered to those children who can't afford to participate. Mr. Burkeen feels that charging for programs gives a value to them in the eyes of park users and also allows the Parks Department to generate revenue. Mr. Walt Bussells suggesting the reading 'The Experienced Economy' by James Gilmore. When asked how he would design the parks governance model for our City, Mr. Burkeen responded that he would have a Board with funds separate from general fund, as this gives the ability to act in a timely manner. Mr. Burkeen also suggested building partnerships with local companies or organizations. In regards to partnerships, make the expectations realistic. Another component of successful partnerships is the ability to appreciate and define each group's role. When asked what his suggestions were to promote the parks system, he suggested that we have a marketing person that develops partnerships not only with the public, but the businesses as well. Partner with TV stations and radio stations. Parks continue to evolve and are the heartbeat of every community. We must continue to develop programs and parks that meet the needs of the citizens. Mr. Burkeen stays current by reading about trends, visiting parks, etc. He challenges his staff and keeps them enthusiastic by giving them input/ownership over projects.


B. Susie Wiles introduced Councilwoman Lynette Self, Councilwoman Jenkins and Councilman Art Graham as guest speakers to discuss the role of City Council in Parks and Recreation Administration. In 2001, Councilwoman Jenkins was the Chair of the Active Recreation Committee. The committee suggested the District lines be removed for the exercise of listing parks with needs (new park sites, park upgrades, etc). In reviewing the list, it would cost $55 million to complete. The Committee received $30 million. The list was prioritized and everything that wasn't included in the $30 million would be completed if any additional funding were provided. The problem that lies with most of the park development is that there is money to purchase the land, but no money to build up the park. The committee requested Phil Bruce provide a copy of the under funded list. Districts 2 and 3 have the lowest parks per capita ranking and the least available land for sale. Councilwoman Lynette Self stated that in her opinion, there are not enough programs. She suggested that we work with the Jacksonville Children's Commission and other non-profit organizations, as there is money and grants at their disposal. All City Council members reiterated that they want what is best for the City and their constituents. They encourage the following:

  • Need more programs. Hire teenagers to run programs during the summer, in conjunction with the summer lifeguards.
  • Tap into private funding sources.
  • Involve associations and Jacksonville residents with the build, design and redesign processes.
  • Look at dedicated funding sources for parks, boat ramps, etc.
  • Implement continuing education programs
  • Keep Council members involved in parks decision making

When asked what the frustrations are for getting budgeting for parks, City Council stated that the frustration is finding land and funds for buildings or maintenance. They purchase the land, but don't have any money for design or upkeep. As a result, funds get spent on security and property maintenance instead of on park design and construction. The bonding practice where each Council member received $1 million for parks spending was seen by the Council members as a success. Councilman Graham made the suggestion of charging for naming rights on benches, bricks, playscapes, fencing, etc. It is a good way to earn the extra money for the maintenance or improvement of the design, as well as to gain community buy-in to the park. Councilwoman Jenkins also emphasized that Parks Department leaders and planners should be in attendance when special speakers address the Task Force Committee. When asked how the Planning Department is involved, Councilwoman Self mentioned that Planning and Parks have different policies on creating entrance points to parks from surrounding neighborhoods.

C. Lanny Russell provided an overview on the Governance/Structure Subcommittee. The Subcommittee is focusing on the process. At this time, they recommend the Mayoral appointment of a Board of Trustees responsible for policy and hiring an Executive Director for the Parks Department. The issues they are currently struggling with is how to select the Board of Trustees, whether is should be by skills set, community group representation or geographical. The Governance/Structure Subcommittee meets next on 8/24 at 5:30PM in the Mayor's Small Conference Room.

Derek Rowan provided an update on the Vision/Mission Statement Subcommittee. He provided the Committee with the four suggestions for the new mission statement. The committee will review the proposed mission statements and provide feedback at the next Task Force meeting.

Discussion of the upcoming Public Hearings took place. Susie Wiles and Rufus were to meet to discuss format of the session. The date 9/18 will need to be changed due to too many other City events taking place on that Saturday.

D. Rufus Pennington formed a subcommittee that will begin drafting information collected to date into a useable format. The final draft will be the recommendation that will be presented to the Mayor at the end of 2004. Rufus Pennington, T.R. Hainline, Derek Rowan and Susie Wiles have volunteered to serve on this subcommittee.

E. Lyssa Kohler advised that the 9/18 meeting that was originally scheduled for the public hearing has now been changed to a Parks Task Force field visit. The 11/17 Task Force meeting has been rescheduled to 11/15. Lyssa Kohler will provide exact details such as location and time to the Task Force via email.