Friday, May 22, 2009

Springfield-Greene County Parks Department Receives Glowing Review

I enjoyed reading this article, "Parks hits a budgetary winner," in the News-Leader today.

I wrote an article for the "Community Free Press" about the decision process of budget cuts within the park system last year. I was proud of that article and spent a great deal of time on it, including over 2 hours of meeting time with Parks Director Jodie Adams. The article also offered document boxes with the services that were available within the system of parks for the remainder of last summer, as a public service. It would have come out in the issue that followed the article I wrote on the City versus Springfield Skatepark Association, if it had been published.

I agree the Parks Department has taken some unwarranted hits about some of their cuts in the past. I don't know how they can communicate what they do in their budget, what can be used to fund pools and parks which originated prior to sales tax revenues being approved for new parks and pools. Somehow, no matter how many times it is reported, a lot of people still do not understand it.

Of all of the articles I ever submitted to the Community Free Press, the parks article was the only one that CFP refused, or failed, to publish. Though I repeatedly asked why an article I had invested so much energy in was not published, I was never given any answer other than a promise to get back to me on what I could do to make it work for the paper.

Later, I asked Adams if she would mind if I posted it at JackeHammer. She wanted to read and approve it before I posted it. I didn't feel it was appropriate to seek her approval of the piece before posting it, something I would not do before publishing an article in a news paper, why should I do it at my blog? So, it languishes today in the file cabinet. I regret it because, I really felt it gave insight into what the parks department went through during their budget cuts last year, relayed the facts about many issues within that department the public questioned, and showed Ms. Adams in a more personal light, as she struggled with decisions she did not wish to have to make in a way that she felt would be fair to all the citizens of Springfield.

That one, I guess, is the one that got away.

The reason I sought her permission to post it here, in the first place, is because she granted her interview to a contributor for CFP, not to a local blogger. I didn't feel it was appropriate, under the circumstances, to post it here, without her permission, for that reason.



BBrown said...

I believe Bob Mace was hammering Jodie Adams around that time last year. If I remember right, he felt she had made some high-profile cuts (pool hours) as a sort of punishment and warning against having to cut her budget. Maybe not surprising then that she wanted to read yours first.

I never knew you wrote that article.

Jackie Melton said...

Well, I certainly hadn't cut the parks department much slack in the skatepark article either (though I do believe, with what I was given to work with it was a fair article). That was another reason I would have liked to have seen it published.

It would be dated now, of course.

Adams recently made a point I had drawn out in that article nearly a year ago. During bad economic times, the parks are more important to local families than ever so, it's a catch 22. Their revenue is down because of the economy, the City cut their contributions because of the economy and there's a natural, greater demand because of the economy.

Anonymous said...

It would seem with a new 50 million dollar Parks Sales tax in 2001 and another 50 million dollar Parks sales tax in 2006,
the department would have enough funds to keep the pools open.

I would guess the Ice Park and the Farm Park with the mechanical milk cow are not generating much profit...

Jackie Melton said...


That's the knee jerk reaction to last year's pool closing and where much of the misunderstanding lies.

Here's something I wonder about, maybe the parks 1/4-cent sales tax initiatives could have been written in such a way to fund maintenance for the existing pools and parks but they weren't, they were brought for new parks and pools and those new parks and pools' maintenance.

All pre-parks sales tax, existing pools were and are funded from contributions from the City's general fund. That's just the way it is. Those sales tax revenues were earmarked for specific projects and the 1/8-cent that was retained were earmarked for the maintenance of those specific new projects. The parks could NOT use those funds for pre-existing parks and pools because such use was not approved by the voters.