Thursday, July 23, 2009

Canceled DeKalb County Parks Master Plan may hold some clues on recent events and the future of DeKalb’s Park System

It seems that ever since I was told by Ms. Marilyn Boyd Drew, the then DeKalb County Park’s Director that I was not allowed to speak at a DeKalb County Parks, Citizens Advisory Board Meeting; I have always kept a warm place in my heart for this fine County Government Department and therefore have kept a careful eye on their misgivings.

In February of 2008, I questioned if DeKalb County was wasting money on redoing a ten year parks master plan after only six years and I soon discovered that they had indeed wasted $249,600.00 on the master plan process but then intended to never publish the results, possibly because the contractor EDAW was asking tough questions, or maybe because the draft report was critical of the lack of park funding, poor facility maintenance as well as the Parks Department lack of communication from its upper management.

In light of the swim meet debacle and now the field usage charge proposal, the “Draft Parks Master Plan” from September of 2007 that was released to me in an open records request, but never published anywhere else, sheds a bit of light on these two recent events.

“Draft Parks Master Plan” from September of 2007

Some key pages to read are as follows
Pg 32 – Interviews with Department Employees
Pg 33 – Interviews with Executive Team
Pg 34 - Interviews with Board of Commissioners
Pg 36 – Interviews with Citizens Advisory Board
Pg 43 – Existing Operational Structure
Pg 46 – Joint Ventures & Partnerships
Pg 80 – Fees Recommendation (My favorite)

"Explore alternatives for reducing fees associated with activities offered by sports associations and other private partners. For example, instead of charging for facilities, the Department could require a sport association to accept a larger responsibility for maintenance. The savings could result in lower fees and lower operational cost for the department."

The WSB-TV news report on field usage fees stated that the proposed Tuesday night meeting officially informing the football sports associations of the new fee structure was supposedly canceled but at the time of the report the associations had not been informed of the change. If the meeting is canceled, maybe the affected sports associations would like to voice their opinions to the DeKalb County Parks Citizens Advisory Board which is meeting that same night, Tuesday July 28th in Decatur at 6:00 p.m.

That is if they will be allowed to speak?

1 comment:

Dogger said...

John, thanks for keeping on top of this and I suppose you'll be attending. I will, along with others from the Softball association that uses Murphey Candler's fields (MCGSA). One point that we should all be aware of is that we, the MCGSA, already pay the electric bill for the park so that we have lights to play under, a significant portion of field maintenance, and the equipment needed to field a league. There's more but I'd bet that many at the county either don't know this or are choosing to ignore. I hope to see you at the meeting Tuesday.