PARK PROBLEMS: Funding Low For Parks And Recs

Imagine if people had come to a local park to cool off in the heat spell and found that the hours had been reduced or worse yet, if it were closed for the summer.  Well, city leaders say those are real possibilities, unless people keep an open mind.

A lot of people take their neighborhood park for granted, but Verna Williams isn’t one of them.

She says, “This is the place to be, if it’s not too hot! ha!”

Like a lot of people, Verna didn’t realize how badly Des Moines’ Parks and Recreation funding has deteriorated.

Joe Galloway, President of the Des Moines Parks and Recreation board says, “The analogy I like to use is the Titanic heading bearing down on an ice berg.”

He says there’s no way around the department’s one million-dollar shortfall.  But they do have creative ways to get past it.

He says, “I don’t want to cause an uproar by people thinking their favorite neighborhood park is going to be named for some company.”

No, but why no a corporate logo on a shelter house or a softball diamond?  Maybe a playground named for a local business.

Joe says, “That’s absolutely on the table.”

This idea is nothing new.  Iowans have embraced Hy-Vee hall and Wells Fargo Arena, but remember the initial backlash over re-naming Vet’s Auditorium and Sec Taylor Stadium?

Verna says, “Bringing in companies, those are gonna throw limitations on what can be done.”

But Joe says, “We’re still in the process of developing exactly what we want to do, who will do it, what we will ask for, what guidelines we’ll have.”

Galloway says there’s another idea: to recruit volunteers, not to raise money, but to offset costs.

Verna says, “One week, you guys go out pick up the garbage from the park twice a week.  The next people, oh, let’s go and pick up the weeds.  Let’s flower.  I’m all for it.”

In the end, it’s up to the city council… But if Verna had a vote, she says, “I guess we would rather have the shelter house with a company name versus no use.”

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