Parks Need an Overhaul

In today’s Progress, John Yellig writes about the state of Charlottesville’s parks:

A city-sponsored needs assessment by PROS Consulting LLC, a consulting firm specializing in public facilities, found that Charlottesville’s aging park system needs $33 million in upgrades to bring it up to modern standards.

“The majority of parks look ‘tired’ and lack the strong image value that enhances neighborhood, the community and creates a strong advocacy,” states the 69-page document, presented to the City Council last week. “The city of Charlottesville is locked into a 1960’s mindset as it applies to recreation centers.”

$20M of that is to deal with rec centers and pools, $13M for the parks themselves. Council will figure out what to do in a month or two.

4 thoughts on “Parks Need an Overhaul”

  1. No need to convince me. I’ve been railing for months about one simple defunct part of our parks: the water fountains. Progressively over the last year, the water fountain at each public park on my jogging route has gone dead. What more essential common good, I ask you?!

  2. I’m not saying that the parks are fine, but I’m curious: could a consultant’s report EVER say “what you’ve got right now is just fine–don’t change a thing!” It seems that the logic of having a paid consultant who specializes in a certain thing come to consult on your thing demands that they’re going to say–inevitably–“you need to change your thing!”

    That said, I do think that the parks in the city could be better–more bathrooms (lots of the little parks have no bathrooms, and if you bring a child or toddler there in particular you know what a problem that is!), functioning water fountains, safe equipment, these would be good things.

    I’m not immediately convinced that a 60s mindset is that bad of a thing, though. Depending on what that means, of course. I’m curious what a more modern mindset in regards to recreation centers would mean. I guess I shoudl read the article.

  3. I’m not saying that the parks are fine, but I’m curious: could a consultant’s report EVER say “what you’ve got right now is just fineā€“don’t change a thing!”

    So long as that consultant isn’t in the business of doing that thing. It’s good that this particular consultant isn’t in the park construction business, but they are in the park planning business and, presumably, Charlottesville will need some park planning if they follow this consultant’s recommendations.

    The city has the parks proposal in question on their website.

  4. Having served on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in the early and mid-nineties, what was said in the story sounded familiar.
    There are several points to be raised.First,with the city’s present financial state, I do not see how expensive new facilities can be built. Are taxes to be increased to do it?
    Secondly, the city does not do a very good job taking care of what it already has. The statement about bathrooms and water fountains is absolutely correct. The enforcement of the leash law is non-existent.It seems the parks are becoming parking lots and dog poop repositories. And all that damn mowing in out-of-the way places,steep banks,etc is ridiculous. Mow athletic facilities and areas used for around picnic areas,and leave the rest for wildlife habitat. That would be a way to save some money and protect the environment. And the funny thing is areas that should be mowed are neglected. I have seen the grass around the McIntire Wading Pool ankle high, while some steep bank somewhere gets shaved off to the nth degree.
    So close down Meade Pool?Take something away from the people on the south side of town? Maybe instead of consultants,the Parks Dept should ask people in the neighborhoods what they would like from their local parks. They would get some good,commonsense answers you may be sure.
    Instead of grandiose “Master Plans” and the like,the city should start off by making sure the trash is picked up in the parks,that the dog law is enforced, that the parks don’t attract drug dealers and other undesirables-just do a better job of maintaining what we already have.
    Take care of what is already here,before extravagant new proposals are approved. As far as the concern that the Dept may have to compete with new private fitness facilities,well, if the private sector is filling a niche,maybe Parks and Recreation doesn’t need to.
    The public should be like the parent who tells a kid “I’m not buying you new toys until you take better care of the ones you have”.
    (But then again we have a City Council that sometimes acts like middle school kids who have a substitute teacher-but thats another matter.)

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