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Data-driven dreaming: We must match our aspirations for Parks with demonstrated needs and sustainable funding

Yesterday Mayor McGinn delivered his State of the City address. There were several moments of applause, and I found myself clapping as well as he touched on many of the issues Council has been working on, like public safety, and public education, and overall quality of life issues for all of our neighborhoods.


The mayor’s speech was a wonderful reminder about how important our work is, how we are getting things done, and how we still have work to do.

Surprisingly, the mayor did mention a possible Parks ballot measure in 2014, which is a central part of my work plan.

As you may recall, Council passed Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) 83-1-A-1, which asked the Department of Parks and Recreation to start looking at long-term funding options. We know that this department, like others, has taken cuts over the last several years. The intent of this SLI was to fully grasp our Parks department, the service levels they offer and ones we aspire to, as well as get a grasp of costs of services. That’s a big ask, which is why Council passed this SLI years prior to a possible ballot measure.

There was one small part of the mayor’s speech that gave me pause.  He said his hope was that we will restore community hours citywide.

While I support the essence of this statement, I am cautious. Open doors to community centers can be viewed as a success, but I want more. How about open doors and well-used community centers? We passed SLI 107 2-A-1 calling for exactly the data that will help us achieve that goal in 2011.

That’s what I am working toward.

My goal is to make sure that our Parks Department, and all of its programs, are working for us, and meeting our needs and our goals.

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