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[District 4 news] Mowing parks [86]: Steve Arnold

posted May 31, 2011, 6:56 AM by Oak Meadow Administration

This is the latest in a series of occasional newsletters on topics that may be of interest to Fitchburg District 4 residents.


Over the last few weeks, City staff and Common Council members have received a steadily increasing stream of complaints that informal areas in our parks are not being mowed.  This is an update on that situation.


During budget deliberations last year, your Council worked hard to try to keep a lid on expenses for continuing programs, mindful of the tax increase that would come from taking over library services from Dane County.  At one point in the discussion, savings were offered by Parks and Public Works by leaving a vacant park maintenance position unfilled.

  (Public Works manages the joint streets/parks labor pool.)  The Council accepted this offer, and I may be speaking for all the members of the last Council in saying the effects of the change were not well understood, and we now regret taking that action.


Cutting that position now appears to be a false economy.  The vacant position was only one of three, and even though the streets and parks maintenance workers are now a single team, no streets workers were available to take up the slack, as we have more streets to maintain every year with the same staff.


Faced with the cuts, Public Works and Parks agreed on a reduced work plan that could be accomplished with the reduced staff.  Last winter, snow was not removed from interior paths in the parks, and this summer, large areas formerly mowed were left unmowed.  These areas were generally used for informal play, such as tag, frisbee, dog exercise, kite flying, and family activities.


Council and City staff have heard the complaints loud and clear.  Parks and Public Works are now trying to mow all areas at least once or twice during the summer to keep down weeds, and Council members are looking at options to increase mowing to the former level of service.


Equipment to do the work is not the problem.  Rather, we don't have enough people.  Getting enough people will take money, whether we hire another staff member, pay overtime to existing staff, or contract out.

Over the long haul, having our own staff is more economical, sustainable, and more stimulating to the local economy, so I prefer that solution.


We value your opinions.  If there are specific areas that need mowing for activities, please report them to one of your alders or Parks or Public Works staff.  Note that this does _not_ mean the areas will be mowed!  However, we need to know what needs to be done so we know how much funding we need to find, and what our mowing program should be next year.


As elected officials, two of the most difficult tasks we have are (1) to help citizens make the connection between the taxes they pay in December and the services they receive all year, and (2) to decide what services to offer in the face of demands for lower taxes and conflicting demands for services.  When you weigh in about what you need, it helps us do a better job.


So keep the complaints, suggestions, and even compliments coming.  This note is just by way of explanation, and not meant to discourage your feedback.


If you know others who would be interested in District 4 News, or if you would like to be removed from the list, please send a quick note to me at the address below.



Steve Arnold, Fitchburg Alder, District 4, Seat 7 2530 Targhee Street, Fitchburg, Wisconsin  53711-5491 Telephone +1 608 278 7700 · Facsimile +1 608 278 7701 Steve.Arnold@Fitchburg.WI.US · http://Arnold.US Become a supporter: like