A. The group met in the Office of the Mayor for an organization meeting and a presentation by Dan Kleman, Chief Operating Officer.
Dan Kleman has worked in several governmental structures throughout his tenure. He has worked for a city government, county government and consolidated government. He began his career in Ohio working as City Manager before his departure to Tallahassee, where he served as City Manager for 20 years. Before accepting his current position with the City of Jacksonville, Dan Kleman worked as County Manager for Hillsborough County for six years. In Hillsborough County, the Parks Department had two roles: Countywide regular park system and County-wide Environmental Land Acquisition Program (ELAP). ELAP is a program that acquires environmentally sensitive land and protects the land from developers. This is a willing buyer/seller program. There is heavy citizen involvement and is appraisal based. In Hillsborough County, organizationally, the activity in the Parks Department served under the County Administrator. There was a Real Estate Division that handled the acquisitions. Once the acquisition was complete, the land was then turned over to the Parks Department for management and usage by the public.
When analyzing the current park system in Jacksonville, there are two issues he feels the Parks Task Force should keep in mind. One, in Jacksonville, the City and the County are consolidated, and two, there is a strong Mayor form of government.
Regarding governance, the Task Force should think about whether parks and preservation functions should be combined into a single department, such as a Parks, Recreation and Preservation Department, or should the functions be kept separate. Additionally, the Task Force should consider whether governance should come under the Mayor or a separate organization or agency?
In Dan Kleman's opinion, parks and preservation functions should be managed by one department, with policies in place to allow for protection of all of the functions. Additionally, he recommended that the department fall under the Mayor.
In regards to relationships between the Parks Department, Council, and citizens, Mr. Kleman suggested that perhaps there should be more clearly defined roles. The Parks Department should never feel the need to check with Council for day-to-day operations. Mr. Kleman also suggested that the Parks Department have a partnership with a 'friends of the parks' organization that could assist with fundraising, public awareness and programming. Bob Baughman was asked to provide the Committee the NRPA top 10 placers for the best park systems in the nation.
Regarding funding for parks, Mr. Kleman suggested implementing master planning requirements for system-wide evaluation of parks. To ensure that parks that need renovation and maintenance are not under funded, or funded after new park development, Mr. Kleman suggested identifying a certain percentage of the capital budget to be used only for park renovations or maintenance. Mr. Kleman is opposed to a dedicated source of funding because he feels elected officials should have the flexibility to move funds where they are needed as things evolve. Mr. Kleman concluded his speech and the group thanked him for his time.