City of Jacksonville


Parks Task Force
Governance Subcommittee
Minutes of October 18, 2004

I. Date, Time, Place, Attendees

A. Date, Time, Place of Meeting

Date of Meeting: October 18, 2004

Place: Office of the Mayor, Conference Room

Time:5:15 - 6:45 PM

B. Attendees

    1. Lanny Russell, Chair
    2. T.R. Hainline
    3. Richard Skinner
    4. Coen Purvis
    5. Lisa Rowe
    6. Bob Baughman
    7. Phil Bruce
    8. Lorenzo Williams
    9. Denise Ostertag
    10. Marlo Zarka
    11. Randy Robertson
    12. Elizabeth Kohler
    13. Mark Middlebrook

II. The Meeting

A. The group reviewed the discussion from the last meeting regarding the Children's Commission budget structure and agreed it was a good idea and could relate well to Parks.

Bob Baughman discussed park maintenance in relation to the many comments in the public comments sessions regarding the need to upgrade the level of maintenance in our parks. Current situation: Currently the Parks Department organizes park maintenance geographically into four districts (NE, NW, SW, SE). Each of the four districts has approximately 20 staff and each district has 70- 80 parks. The department took a look at other park systems around the nation and found Denver to be viable for comparison. Mr. Baughman then distributed and reviewed a handout that compared maintenance labor hours per acre per year for Jacksonville and Denver.

Based on the comparison, Baughman said that Jacksonville would need 42 additional maintenance positions. The labor hours per acre in Jacksonville is 134.72. Denver's hours were approximately 161 labor hours per acre. Baughman suggested that the parks should be broken down by planning districts as opposed to the four maintenance districts currently being used.

Baughman distributed a new park proposed organizational structure, 'Proposal 3,' with a list of positions needed to staff the proposal, including 10 park rangers and another marketing person. The proposed structure includes most of the positions discussed in the last meeting of the governance sub-committee, with the exception of a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technician.

Chairman Russell suggested that the Parks Department conduct a wider base of comparison, that just one city was not enough.

The parks department is also recommending 10 park rangers that would address environmental protection issues….they would be the presence in the parks, patrolling parks, identifying issues relating to law enforcement and 'eyes and ears' of the public. The Community Service Officers proposed by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office would be the law enforcement officers who would be trained in the parks (CSO's don't carry guns).

Commissioner Goodman expressed concern about having someone in the parks who looks like law enforcement but doesn't have law enforcement powers…and that may cause safety issues for that employee. Goodman said training would help, that rangers should travel in twos and there should be a frequent law enforcement presence.

Chairman Russell said the rangers should be in direct contact with law enforcement by radio. Commissioner Goodman said that if the rangers are not law enforcement shouldn't they be in the recreations programs division. Rangers, in the National Park Service, can be almost anything, sort of a series of positions for NPS: security, trail-building, resource protection… these positions should be flexible. Chairman Russell suggested that the park rangers could be the 'park keepers.'

Baughman said the rangers were supposed to be addressing the safety and security issue. He said he had bumped up the resource management and that adding 10 positions might be redundant. Commissioner Goodman said the committee shouldn't under-emphasize the importance of having a 'uniformed' presence. Baughman said maintenance workers finish in the early afternoons and the rangers would work hours when there a more people in the parks. Baughman suggested that the issue of the rangers should be referred to Commissioner Purvis' safety committee.

Commissioner Hainline said that the additional positions will cost a lot of money, as well as the capital improvement projects. Commissioner Hainline said it was unclear, based on proposed organizational chart # 3, whether there are enough personnel for grant writing and fundraising, particularly private fundraising. He suggested that if the Parks Department had doubts about the personnel, it should aim high.

Chairman Russell suggested that one position be added for grant writing. Commissioner Hainline said it should be someone's full time job to be a fulltime fundraiser. San Francisco's foundation does the fundraising and finding the match money, Commissioner Goodman said. Commissioner Skinner said you are really talking about a development director.

Commissioner Goodman said there are education grant opportunities as well. Ostertag said they do receive some grants but like Goodman are short on staff to administer the grants.

Commissioner Skinner suggested that we should develop a funding ratio so that an increase in parks acreage or an increase in city population growth would equate to an increase in parks operations dollars. Baughman suggested that for each acre of parkland acquired, a certain dollar amount should be added to the maintenance budget at that time and not wait until the next fiscal year. Commissioner Goodman seconded this idea and said that while there are numerous grants for park acquisition and development, and these grants often require certain levels of operation, such as hours of operation or number of education courses, there are very few grants out there for park operations and maintenance.

Commissioner Hainline mentioned that at the next funding meeting he is looking at what type of dollar figure would be associated to some of the recommendations that have been suggested by the Task Force to date. He suggested that the Task Force look at costs related to an increase in number of employees and related equipment, etc. in order to be the 'best' in regards to maintenance as well.

Commissioner Goodman suggested that if we want to be the best, the funding numbers for Jacksonville need to be the highest in the nation. Chairman Russell suggested that Bob look at additional cities around the nation and compare with per capita ratios as well. He also asked that the Bob prepare a full analysis that could be attached as an appendix to the report.

In regards to the structure of the governance sub-committee section of the Task Force report, Chairman Russell suggested that it be approximately 5-7 pages long. In order to prepare for the final work product, Chairman Russell asked that the members of the Committee and those who have attended regularly prepare a document summarizing the recommendations that they feel the Committee has made to date. At the next meeting, the Committee will create an outline for the report.

Commissioner Goodman commented on how to put dollar figures to management. NPS has recently utilized a parks management software which analyzes the condition of the park asset by producing the work orders, tracking the costs of the work performed, and tracking the results of the work orders. She suggested having staff in the Resource Management Division who would utilize such a system and keep it updated. Baughman introduced Marlo Zarka who said that the Parks Maintenance Division utilizes such a system now, but that there is only one person who routinely generates over 800 work orders per week, and the Division could use more staff in order to make the most of the system. Commissioner Goodman suggested adding staff and Zarka indicated that the Department is currently moving in that direction.

Baughman suggested moving toward a technological system that would help the Department's workers be more efficient in tracking data and information systems, such as laptops in the vehicles of Parks workers. Commissioner Russell seconded that the necessary technological equipment be made available to those employees who need it.

Chairman Russell said it would be very helpful for the Department to have a worker internal to the Department who would be able to input, maintain, and analyze the data. Baughman suggested that yes if there was one person in the department who was in charge of tracking information systems for the whole department that would be great, but most City staff are multi-tasked not single-tasked.

Chairman Russell thanked the group for their time and scheduled the next meeting for Monday, November 1st 2004 at 5:15 p.m. in the Mayor's Office conference room.