II. The Meeting
Committee Chairman Russell welcomed the group and indicated that the meeting purpose was: 1) to review proposed changes to the organizational chart of the Parks Department; 2) to discuss further the concept of grassroots participation in parks planning through recreation advisory councils; 3) to review the memorandum developed by Bruce Hill of the Division of Forestry regarding ideal staffing for proper resource management; and 4) to hear from Commissioner Skinner on his research into coordination between the Parks and Planning Departments.
The group reviewed two handouts, a chart developed by Middlebrook to reflect functions and divisions of a redefined Parks Department and the latest organizational chart developed by Baughman's team in response to the research of the Task Force. The differences that were highlighted included a new Director of Community Relations position, and the concept of Resource Management/ Preservation Project as a separate Division within the Department.
Discussion ensued about whether having the resource management function as a division separate from the parks maintenance division would result in duplication of maintenance efforts. Wiles indicated that there needs to be a different sensitivity to management of natural resources and it would be difficult for the maintenance division as it is currently structured to oversee the preservation lands. Baughman emphasized that there are many overlaps between maintenance of active parks and preservation lands. Commissioner Goodman, Superintendent of the Timucuan Preserve National Park in Jacksonville, said that her organization separates these functions into two divisions and she ensures that the divisions work together appropriately. Wiles gave an example of the department having one plant biologist on staff; an individual who would be housed under the resource management / preservation project division, but would conduct work in active parks as needed and as directed by the Director of the department. Ostertag suggested that if this model is adopted that it would make sense to have the park naturalists remain under the Activities Division because they are an integral program activity and provide environmental education for many programs including but not limited to preservation sites.
Chairman Russell and Wiles asked that Middlebrook and Baughman work together to unite the concepts expressed through the handout with the organizational chart.
The group then turned the discussion to the concept of grassroots participation in parks through recreation advisory councils and reviewed a handout developed by Middlebrook to indicate visually how the process might work. The handout depicted six Regional Boards (made up of representatives from CSOs and park associations), which linked up to a Recreational Advisory Board (made up of the six Chairs of the Regional Boards). The Recreational Advisory Board would then communicate to the Governing Board.
The group developed the following additional suggestions:
The group agreed to review the bylaws of the recreational councils in San Diego, CA.
- The Chair of the Recreational Advisory Board should serve ex-officio on the Governing Board.
- The Director of Community Relations for the Parks Department would serve as the seventh member of the Recreational Advisory Board.
- The boards would have bylaws, but would be operational in nature rather than corporate bylaws.
Chairman Russell passed out the memorandum from Bruce Hill of the Division of Forestry regarding ideal staffing for proper resource management. The group agreed to review it in detail, and Chairman Russell indicated that most of what Hill recommended had already been discussed by the Governance subcommittee, especially in regard to staff positions.
The group then heard from Commissioner Skinner on his research into coordination between the Parks and Planning Departments. Skinner emphasized that with a combined effort between the two departments there are opportunities to provide incentives during the rezoning process for park expansion, improvements, and donations of land for future parks. The group discussed the market place as a potential generator of capital for parks, park improvements, and park expansions. All agreed that the process for receiving exactions from developers would have to be carefully controlled under objective and consistent processes, guidelines, standards and formulas. The group also suggested that the Director of the Parks Department be authorized to make a recommendation to the Land Use and Zoning Committee of City Council on parks related requirements for all rezonings and land use amendments.
Chairman Russell adjourned the meeting.