City of Jacksonville


Parks Task Force Committee
Minutes of November 29, 2004 Meeting

I. Date, Time, Place, Attendees

A. Date, Time, Place of Meeting

Date of Meeting: November 29, 2004

Place: City Hall, Mayor's Large Conference Room

Time: 1 - 3:30 p.m.

B. Attendees

Rufus Pennington
Coen Purvis
Robert Joseph
Anna Dooley
T.R. Hainline
Councilwoman Self
Phil Bruce
Ann Baker
Mike Saylor
Barbara Goodman
Susie Wiles
Bob Baughman
Elizabeth Kohler
Lisa Rowe
Councilwoman Copeland
Kelley Boree
Jody McDaniel
Susan Grandin
Dan Conrath
Ellen Oppenheim

II. The Meeting

The group met at the offices of the Mayor for a special presentation from Ellen Oppenhiem, Director of Park and Recreation for the City of San Diego. Ms. Oppenheim gave the Commission an overview of the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department (Department).

The Department serves a metropolitan area of 342 square miles with an estimated 1,275,100 people. The Department operates a wide variety of programs and maintains a large number of facilities: 36,300 acres of parkland, 337 community and neighborhood parks, 25 miles of ocean and bay beaches, 49 recreation centers, 3 gymnasiums, 193 playground sites, 18 swimming pools, 4 golf complexes, 2 municipal fishing piers, 1 children's fishing lake and 1 skate park.

The Department has approximately 1000 staff members, a $150 million annual operating budget, and is comprised of the following operating divisions:

  • Community Parks I – Including 4 Council Districts, 1 Cemetery and Citywide Special Events Support
  • Community Parks II – Includes 4 Council Districts, Services for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities, Aquatics and Volunteer Coordination
  • Developed Regional Parks – Includes Balboa and Mission Bay Parks, Shorelines and Beaches Parks and Citywide Dance
  • Open Space Parks – Includes Management and Maintenance of Open Space Parks, multiple species conservation program compliance and Maintenance assessment districts
  • Park Planning and Development – Includes the development and management of grants, land acquisition, capital improvements program management and long range planning.

The Department has a Park and Recreation Board, which consists of 11 members, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. The members serve a minimum of two year, maximum of 4-year term. The main purpose of the board is to advise on matters relating to the acquisition, development, maintenance and operation of parks, beaches and recreation property and facilities. The Board has a design review committee. Ms. Oppenheim mentioned that she previously was the director of the Los Angeles Park and Recreation Department. The Board in that City is a policy setting board with the authority to issue contracts, sign leases under certain durations, etc.

The Department also has Recreation Councils. The Councils promote recreation programs in the community through planning, administering, publicizing, coordination and interpretation. The Councils may raise funds and work with the Department to provide programs, special events, enhanced services, facilities, equipment and supplies. The Councils operate under the authority of a Special Use Permit. Membership is open to anyone meeting the requirements of the by-laws as approved by the City Manager or his/her designee. If Recreational Councils grow to the extent that they desire to have staff and handle funds, then the Department recommends they become a 501(c)3.

The presidents of all of the Recreational Councils belong to a group termed the Area Committee. The design review committee of the Board communicates with the Area Committee on park plans before taking the plans to the full Board for approval. Ms. Oppenheim indicated that it requires specific Departmental staff skills to coordinate with the Councils.


    What is the secret to your success? On time; on budget.

    How does a capital improvement project move through the Department? The Department has 4 grant writers and 25 Project Managers, which include: Landscape Architects and Engineers. The Department has a Park Planning Division which oversees capital improvements among other duties. The Division keeps a list of projects with the project manager listed and red, yellow, and green markings to indicate whether or not the project is on time / on budget. The way to ensure a timely process is to staff engineers and dedicated grant writers in the Department.

    How do you maintain your standard of quality? Identify the problem (lack of focus, lack of training, etc). Ms. Oppenheim gave an example of poor maintenance of park restrooms. She identified the problem and implemented 4 solutions to make up a PREP Program (Park Restroom Enhancement Program). Re-evaluate maintenance schedule. Changed hours. Supplement part-time staff with full-time supervisors Provided training with training manual. Provided proper tools. Added inspection team and rating/ scoring system.

    How do you work to build stewardship for your parks? Ms. Oppenheim gave an example of a new skate park that was open only three weeks when it was vandalized with graffiti. Ms. Oppenheim closed the park for a day and let it be known that the next time this occurred the park would be closed for three days. To her knowledge, the park was never closed for three days. Those that used the park began to patrol the areas and ensure its upkeep.

    How effective is your Friends of Parks organization? They raise $15,000 - $20,000 per year for parks, but are most successful in the advocacy role.

    How diversified is the funding source for the operations budget? In San Diego and Los Angeles is a combination of developer fees, grants, bond acts, etc. San Jose, CA has a dedicated funding source for parks capital projects that derives from construction and conveyance taxes. In San Diego the Parks budget is under 10% of the general fund budget. Ms. Oppenheim thinks it is key to have a diversified budget.

    Can you describe further the developer exactions? There are set guidelines indicating number of acres or dollars to go toward parks for new developments. The difficult arises in negotiating over which parcel. It is best to begin negotiations as early in the development process as possible; also to make it so the developer can not move forward until the negotiations over parks are complete. Can you describe further the Maintenance Assessment Districts? The districts add special amenities where communities are willing and able to pay extra for them. San Diego has 39 currently, and some do special lighting projects, landscaped medians, etc. The equity issue is a valid one.

    Would you describe further your Park Ranger and park safety program? The Rangers can write tickets, but the focus is on education over enhancement. Rangers carry police radios but not guns, and travel solo. The Department communicates regularly with the Sheriff's Office; Ms. Oppenheim has assigned one of the Deputy Directors to be in regular contact with the Sheriff's second in command. The Recreational Councils regularly invite officers to attend meetings, and the Department invites officers to ground breaking ceremonies, etc. Success depends on the Sheriff communicating the importance of park security and safety to the front line officers. The best deterrent to crime in parks is healthy and frequent use. When a park has been taken over by a bad element, need to do something different and significant so can get the community and families back in the park. Helpful to have police on task for parks in addition to the Rangers because police tend to respond more quickly to a fellow officer than to a Ranger. The Sheriff's Office should remember that parks are part of their jurisdiction and that Rangers do not take the place of police patrol.

Minutes Prepared by Laurel Beard