Press Release from the City of Oakley
The City of Oakley Parks Division has recently gone through some reorganization. “The vision for the Parks Division restructuring is intended to provide improved leadership and enhance operations,” stated Jason Vogan, City Engineer/Public Works Director. “We’re committed to ongoing improvements of service delivery,” he added.
Along with some in-house adjustments, the most significant change will be the recruitment and hiring of a Parks Division Manager. The Parks Division has not had a Manager since 2008. Leonard Morrow, an experienced and long time parks and recreation professional, is serving as the interim parks manager. Morrow is evaluating the park programs and services and assisting in making the restructuring a smooth transition.
Recent accomplishments within the City of Oakley Parks Division include: Assisting with the installation of an all abilities playground at Crockett Park, located at 4150 Richards Way and Empire Road. The playground is designed for use by children with disabilities as well as nondisabled children. Crockett Park’s grand opening was celebrated January 14th; Holly Creek Park, located on Hagar Court, has added 6 new developed acres which include a walking trail, landscape, and large open turf play area. It previously was the site of a former detention basin for storm water runoff. Its ribbon cutting is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, 2012; and last, renovation of the streetscape along Neroly Road at the entrance of Placer Drive is substantially complete. It includes new irrigation and shrub replacement. The existing trees were kept and remain vibrant. In the coming weeks the Parks Division will be focusing on community and neighborhood parks by making needed repairs and ball field renovations. Medians and streetscapes will also be improved through the replacement and installation of shrubs and trees.
The mission of the City of Oakley Parks Division is to provide clean, safe, well-maintained, inviting, and sustainable parks, landscape areas, and recreation facilities for the enjoyment of Oakley residents and visitors. The Division is responsible for maintaining over 95 developed acres of park land, almost 40 acres of unimproved park land and open spaces, and approximately 50 acres of landscaped street medians, planters, and streetscapes, with the majority of the maintenance and operations costs funded through landscape and lighting assessment districts.
The maintenance services are divided into twenty-six (26) benefit zones throughout the City with in-house staff and contracted services performing the work. Maintenance tasks include playground equipment, athletic fields and courts, mowing, edging, irrigation, tree trimming, litter control, graffiti removal, vandalism repair, weed abatement, pest control, general landscape maintenance, and special projects, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, the assessment revenues in some benefit zones have not kept pace with expenses, and are insufficient to adequately maintain their neighborhood landscape areas and have no reserve monies. Bryan Montgomery, Oakley City Manager said, “We continue to face a real challenge with many of the landscape districts being underfunded.” He noted the costs of maintenance increases each year and inflators were not built into the assessments when first established, and therefore, the revenue is no longer adequate in many of the zones, especially when you consider the need that every landscape’s irrigation system and plant matter has a life cycle and eventually needs to be replaced. Morrow added, “The City needs make outreach efforts to the neighborhoods where landscape areas are underfunded and educate residents about the problem, what is at stake, and what can be done.” If no additional funding in those underfunded zones occur, or residents don’t step forward to assist with the maintenance, the City may, at that juncture, need to start cutting costs which may include reducing maintenance levels.
The City of Oakley Parks Division is interested in soliciting input from the community with regards to all its work aspects and responsibilities, be it existing parks and landscape, future projects, or needed amenities. Interim Park Manager Morrow said, “If you see a problem, have an idea or suggestion, please let us know.” Citizens, groups, and neighborhood associations are encouraged to work with the Parks Division to propose and perform volunteer park maintenance activities.
Morrow can be contacted by calling the Parks Division office at 625-7037 or directly by email at Morrow@ci.oakley.ca.us