Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funding for Parks

Volunteers and nonprofit groups able to tap into philanthropic funding, is exactly the type of approach signature parks facing funding problems, like Land Park, can do, and they are taking the appropriate steps, as reported in the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

“As City Hall steadily cuts back its funding for parks maintenance, many of Sacramento's neighborhoods have mobilized armies of volunteers to prune, weed and pick up trash.

“Along with neighborhood watches and community center programming, it's another case of neighborhoods shouldering the load for a city government that no longer provides the services it once did.

“Over the past four years, the budget for parks maintenance in the city has been cut by more than 50 percent. With so little remaining, city officials have come to rely on volunteers.

“As a result, the number of organized volunteer groups helping with park maintenance has exploded, from five to more than 40 in the past five years. Several more groups are expected to debut in the coming months, city officials said.

"Without them," said Dave Mitchell, the operations manager for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, "you might see the lawn get mowed, but that's basically it."

“Before budget cuts hammered park funding, the city could get by with its own workers and the help of service organizations such as Kiwanis and the Boy Scouts. Soon, that wasn't enough.

“Mitchell said the influx of volunteers began with people living across from parks and a handful of neighborhood associations. It eventually became much more organized.

“Nowhere is the reliance upon a structured volunteer group more evident than in William Land Park, the city's largest.

“Neighborhood residents organized a volunteer corps last May after the number of full-time parks workers dedicated to the park fell from more than 50 to six. Now, the Land Park Volunteer Corps has a roster of 300 workers and has taken in nearly $25,000 in donations, sponsorships and grants from local elected officials.

"When you look at Sacramento, you will see that parks are the focal points of so many of our neighborhoods," said Craig Powell, the president of the Land Park Volunteer Corps. "They really are our community centers and the center of our neighborhood identities."

“The Land Park Volunteer Corps, which is applying for 501(c)3 status, works once a month. Volunteers prune, weed and provide fresh planting – chores the city no longer can afford to do itself.”