City of Jacksonville


Parks Task Force

Governance Subcommittee

Minutes of November 1, 2004 Meeting

I. Date, Time, Place, Attendees

A. Date, Time, Place of Meeting

Date of Meeting: November 1, 2004

Place: City Hall, Conference Room B

Time: 5:15 - 6:45 p.m.

B. Attendees

    1. Lanny Russull (Chair)
    2. Richard Skinner
    3. Gail McMorries
    4. Pam Paul
    5. Bob Baughman
    6. Barbara Goodman
    7. Councilwoman Copeland
    8. Lisa Rowe
    9. Phil Bruce
    10. Susan Saltsgiver
    11. Bob Baughman
    12. Lorenzo Williams
    13. Elizabeth Kohler
    14. Mark Middlebrook

II. The Meeting

A. Committee Chairman Russell welcomed the group and indicated that the meeting purpose was two-fold: 1) to hear from Councilwoman Copeland about the recent visit with representatives from the San Diego Parks Department, and 2) to discuss sub-committee recommendations and the drafting of those recommendations.

Chairman Russell would like to receive an email from the members of the sub-committee and those who have regularly attended the meetings with their thoughts on what the recommendations of the committee have been to date. Mr. Russell will draft the governance section of the report and will circulate for review. The report will cover governance recommendations with the objectives of making the park system more efficient, with more effective operations, and with bringing the Preservation Project Jacksonville into the Parks Department. The report will cover objectives, what the committee has observed, and recommendations.

B. Phil Bruce, Director of Planning, Research and Grants for the Department, reviewed the latest version of the organizational chart developed by the Department to address the suggestions of the governance subcommittee. The organizational chart includes seventeen new recreation specialists and ten new recreation leaders. Having these additional staff members would allow the parks recreation and community centers to remain open for evening hours and weekends. Additional staff members include a new tennis director, four new recreation specialists for athletics, one new position to conduct background checks, and one reservations administrator. This comes to a total of 34 new positions within the recreation division. (There are currently 83 positions within the division). Added to this would be the twelve park Rangers (two per planning district) as suggested by the Safety sub-committee.

C. Councilwoman Copeland reviewed the visit with the San Diego Parks Department. For their neighborhood parks, groups come together as the recreation council. The council is comprised of people from the neighborhood and of associations who utilize the park. The chairperson of this organization belongs to an advisory group made up of other councils around the city.

Lisa Rowe indicated that the councils handle the programming for the parks and also organize volunteers and work to correct maintenance problems. The council also has a design review committee made up of architectural professionals.

Councilwoman Copeland mentioned that the various groups meet as an advisory council and the council then reviews needs across the city and evaluates priorities. San Diego was working to get more engineers and other professionals on the council. The council has been very successful with grass roots funding for parks and with conflict resolution.

Lisa Rowe indicated that this model allows for a commission and also for maximum citizen input. She felt that one could really feel a sense of ownership for the parks amongst the park workers. San Diego is to send Lisa some documents and materials to help us further understand their models.

Councilwoman Copeland mentioned that San Diego also offers neighborhoods the opportunity to instill a special maintenance assessment district, and this has been a successful funding technique for the city. Ms. Oppenheim, Director of the San Diego Parks Department, serves as the visionary leader for parks, while the Chief Deputy Director of the Department is the operational coordinator and the implementer of the ideas.

When asked for further details on how the citizen council works, Councilwoman Copeland explained that the council would listen to testimony, hold public hearings, etc. to get input from citizens, then would make recommendations to a City Council committee. The neighborhood parks advocates would be members of a recreational council which would report to an advisory council. The advisory council would in turn report to the Board of Trustees.

Phil Bruce reviewed the structure of the San Diego Parks Department: The Parks Director is appointed by the City Manager; there is an eleven member Board that serves to advise the City Manager and the City Council on parks and recreation matters. The Board members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council. Board members serve two terms and receive no pay.

Chairman Russell indicated that the model sounds similar to what his committee has discussed to date. But he expressed concern regarding management of the various 'friends of the parks' groups. He asked for suggestions regarding governance and it was suggested that the existing neighborhood associations could serve a role. There are 130 neighborhood parks currently in Jacksonville's parks system.

Commissioner Pam Paul requested that a map be created for the sub-committee to outline all of the City of Jacksonville neighborhoods with the parks, neighborhood associations, planning districts, etc. highlighted.

Commissioner Goodman reminded the group that at a previous meeting, the sub-committee had discussed methods for incorporating park keeper staff person and liaisons to the friends groups into the Department structure.

Chairman Russell wondered if the neighborhood associations and Citizen Planning Advisory Committees (CPAC) are already in existence within the City government structure, then should these groups be the ones to communicate with the neighborhood park groups.

Commissioner Skinner expressed concern that if an individual has an issue with a particular park, he or she knows exactly who to call.

Councilwoman Copeland explained that currently a citizen can go to a CPAC meeting and the CPAC Chair will explain the proper procedures for voicing concerns to the City. The CPAC Chair may or may not take a position. If he/she does take a position, the recommendation then goes to the appropriate City Council committee.

Discussion then turned to funding, and it was pointed out that the San Diego Park's budget is $127million, while Jacksonville's is $27million. It was stressed that Jacksonville's parks budget needs to include capital improvements funding.

Commissioner Skinner also recommended that in targeting areas for new parks, it be a good idea to have a liaison from the Planning Department to help with this. Councilwoman Copeland seconded this and indicated that if we don't plan ahead the property values will only increase drastically. If we plan ahead, we can get the land where it will be needed in the future. Councilwoman Copeland suggested that Commissioner Skinner, Mr. Middlebrook, Mr. Hainline and she meet to discuss further the concept of working with developers, the Planning Department, and creative funding concepts.

Chairman Russell indicated that in regards to how this discussion would fit into the governance structure, the 'CEO' position in the parks department should be the one to communicate regularly with the Planning Department in order to stay informed about City planning and development.

Councilwoman Copeland suggested that someone from the parks department review and sign off on every Development of Regional Impact and Planned Urban Development plan and make recommendations to the Planning Department. The recommendations would then be incorporated into the report that the Planning Department gives to the Land Use and Zoning Committee of City Council. Commissioner Skinner said that the Parks Department should be a part of the concurrency process.

Mark Middlebrook said that examples are already surfacing in which developers wish to use adjacent preservation lands to meet concurrency. He recommended that the Parks and Planning Departments have a procedure with standards and values assigned.

Chairman Russell summarized that the sub-committee recommends that the Parks Department should have input into the city planning/ new developments process and that a procedure should be set up and a specific employee identified in order to ensure success.

Chairman Russell then returned the discussion to the concept of involving citizens in the parks planning process at the neighborhood level. He suggested that one model could be to use the existing structure. Each neighborhood association would designate a parks liaison who would then go to CPAC meetings and work to get CPAC to make a recommendation to City Council.

Commissioner Goodman expressed concern over this model.

The group then discussed having a park council per planning district and having the neighborhood groups be not the existing associations, but new ones made up of park people. One would promote the park groups through homeowners associations, through notices to residents in communities near existing neighborhood parks, etc.

Lisa Rowe suggested that such groups be organized geographically as different areas of the City have different numbers of parks.

Mark Middlebrook suggested that staff review this concept further and come back to the committee with a recommendation.

Chairman Russell seconded the notion and also asked that Commissioner Skinner and Councilwoman Copeland meet to develop recommendations regarding working with developers, the Planning Department, and creative funding concepts.

Phil Bruce handed out a report on nation wide Parks Departments' best practices. Four out of ten of the departments studied had strong governing boards. Regarding funding, New York City makes money through its park concessions, Phoenix has a dedicated funding source, and San Diego has a dedicated $0.30 per month fee on gas and electric bills. Also, a review of Phoenix and Portland confirmed that the COJ Parks Department is understaffed.

Chairman Russell thanked the group and adjourned the meeting.