Sunday, August 29, 2010

Managing County Parks

As this editorial from the Sacramento Bee reports, the management has been bad, and piece after piece of the regional parks are slipping into complete failure.

The efforts by private and nonprofit organizations to step in and partner with the County to save those pieces they find of particular value, is a strategy that should be better managed—as was the lease County Parks arranged with the Galt Historical Society to manage the McFarland Ranch, (as a life member of the historical society I sat in on the initial series of meetings with the County to structure the lease agreement).

That well-managed process took several months, concluding in 1999, and has resulted in a very vibrant historical ranch that plays a major role in the recreational and educational life of the community of Galt.

An excerpt from the editorial.

“Sacramento County hasn't run out of money. Yet in terms of managing its regional parks system, the county is morally broke. Elected officials and county taxpayers have failed to be stewards of a crucial asset – our regional parks system – inherited from previous generations. And unless residents and community leaders speak with a clear voice about the value of parks and open space, the condition of our county park system will only worsen.

“Consider the current trend: Gibson Ranch will shutter next Monday as supervisors consider proposals to lease it to outside groups, including a private developer who hopes to make money off the park. Unable to find funds for the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in the American River Parkway, the county turned it over to the American River Natural History Association earlier this year.

“Along the American River Parkway, cuts to patrols and maintenance have left visitors less safe and bathrooms less sanitary.

“Several other county assets have been effectively turned over to outside entities. The Cherry Island Soccer Complex is leased to the California Youth Soccer Association. The Gene Andal Park is leased to the Sacramento Air Modelers. Deer Creek Hills Preserve is managed by the Sacramento Valley Conservancy. The list goes on and on.”