Parks and Recreation Director Armando Solis clarified the city’s current landscape maintenance schedule at the Aug. 11 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission. He also updated the commission on the Walker Community Park improvements.
He said that, while the budget cuts approved in 2019 had caused most services to be performed less often, moving the operations in-house had allowed some to be done more frequently.
Before the budget cuts, the department on a daily basis cleaned and restocked park restrooms, and emptied trash cans in parks, downtown and landscaped areas. Weekly, it mowed, maintained and performed irrigation checks on parks, landscapes and streetscapes. Twice a year, it pruned in landscaped areas and parks.
Changes to the city’s 2019-20 budget slashed $286,000 of funding from the department. Afterward, Solis said, no service was done more often than twice a week. The biweekly operations were cleaning and restocking of park restrooms, and emptying the trashcans in parks. Trash runs in downtown and landscapes happened once a week.
While sports fields continued to be mowed weekly, other mowing and landscape maintenance became monthly. Parks and landscaping were pruned once a year.
Currently, much of the schedule remains unchanged from 2019, but Solis said that shifting the landscaping work in-house has allowed the department to mow and maintain parks twice monthly instead of just once, without increasing spending.
Solis said he made the presentation in response to “a little misunderstanding or confusion” over landscape maintenance levels. He wanted the commissioners to be informed in case they receive questions from community members.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to be coming out of this any time soon,” Commissioner Carrie Graham said of the reduced budget, “but are we thinking outside the box of what we can do to be generating income?”
“Yes, we are,” Solis said, noting that city staff is considering options like changes to the financially troubled lighting and landscaping districts or an initiative similar to the Measure R sales tax.
Graham mentioned ideas to draw people and events, such as building a stadium or event hall in the city.
Solis answered that the Galt Market Community Plan proposes new amenities — including an amphitheater — that “we’re hoping” will bring in sales tax and rent revenue.
“I think it’s a great point that Commissioner Graham brings up, and I love that it’s all hands on deck, trying to come up with new ideas,” Commission Chair Ernie Cason said. “I think this is the right place to keep bringing ideas, kind of spitballing it and seeing what sticks.”
Turning to the progress on the Walker Community Park Master Plan, Solis listed several actions planned for the coming months: grading for the three baseball fields, grading and gravel for a new parking lot, paving of the road that connects to Sargent Avenue, and installation of bathrooms and underground utilities.
Solis said staff hoped to award a contract for constructing the restrooms on Sept. 7. Asked why the fields would be graded but not completed, he explained that there isn’t funding to maintain them. The fields won’t be built until “we go back to Council,” he added.
Additionally, Solis drew attention to the city’s Sounds of Summer concert series and its Summer Drive-In movie series, which happen on alternate Saturdays through September. The next event is Motown and disco music from Gary Bohannon and The Bad Habits, on Aug. 21 at Veterans Soccer Field.