|Recreation & Parks Commission Receives Back
to Back Awards
March 13, 2007
The Richmond Recreation and Parks Commission has received two separate "outstanding achievement" awards from two prestigious national and state recreation organizations, respectively.
On Thursday, March 8, Chairman Anthony Mendocino accepted the "Citation of Merit" award from the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of the National Recreation and Park Association on behalf of the Commission in Sacramento. Richmond was one of two cities recognized for this award category (Stockton was the other). The Pacific Southwest Regional Council Area includes participation of cities from the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Hawaii.
On Friday, March 9, Chairman Anthony Mendocino accepted the "Outstanding Commission" award from the California Association of Park and Recreation Commissioners and Board Members (CAPRCBM) in Sacramento on behalf of the Commission. Richmond was the only Commission in the State of California to be recognized for this award from this organization.
These awards were based on a variety of initiatives undertaken by the Commission over the past three years. All of the past Commissioners and current members are very proud of the special recognition given by these very respected organizations. This may very well be the first time that a Richmond city commission has been so honored by a state or national organization.
OUTSTANDING COMMISSION NOMINATION
CITY OF RICHMOND, RECREATION & PARKS COMMISSION
The Recreation & Parks Commission of the City of Richmond is nominated for outstanding Commission for the 2006-2007 CAPRCBM Award. This submission reflects the sustained outstanding performance by the Commission over the last 3 years during a period of time in which the City of Richmond encountered significant financial problems. In 2004, financial irregularities resulted in an unexpected $35 million deficit and the layoff of a significant number of city employees, including 85% of the recreation staff. The Executive position in charge of the Recreation & Parks Department was also eliminated.
As a result of the financial crisis, the Commission decided to brainstorm new initiatives to help the city retain as many recreation services as possible and to look for ways to increase revenue for the city. Listed below are brief summaries of key projects initiated by the Commission during this period. All of these projects occurred during a period of huge turnover of Commissioners (6 of 9 new members) and the transition of leadership on the Executive Board.
• With limited capital funds and a myriad of park improvement projects to be addressed, the Commission decided to develop a set of criteria to prioritize park projects using a Quality Improvement approach. Several criteria were established, such as safety, protection of infrastructure, lack of play equipment, ADA compliance, etc. A percentage was assigned to each criteria, ranking the criteria in order of importance (e.g. safety received the highest priority of 25% based on a total of 100%). Each Commissioner then voted their own subjective “need” points (from 1 to 10) for each criteria. This effort allowed for each Commissioner’s vote to count equally in the final determination as to which park project would be completed first. After touring over 35 parks the voting tabulation of “criteria percentage” and “points assigned” produced an unbiased and rationally defendable priority list of projects based on data. This recommended list of priorities was presented to City Council and accepted as the roadmap for allocating the limited capital monies available for park improvements. A sample copy of the prioritization process is attached.
• In an effort to increase revenues for the city, the Commission decided to review the existing park fees schedule. The document, as then written, was very cumbersome and complicated to navigate by both city staff and the public. The Commission reorganized the entire fees document, updated the policies, and set up a revised fee schedule which, to the extent practical, attempted to match fees charged with the actual costs incurred by the city for the use of public facilities and parks. In 2005, the revised fee schedule was adopted by City Council and the City is now generating additional revenue as a result of these changes.
• In April, 2004, 85% of recreation staff were laid off and the remaining recreation budget was allocated in a way that did not best serve the entire city. Only five recreation centers were left open, none of them in outlying areas of the city and no criteria established for why certain Centers were being closed. The public felt that closures were made on political grounds rather than more quantitative or qualitative criteria. From May through August commission members created an innovative scheduling and staffing model which allowed the city to develop a variety of “what if” scenarios in an effort to more equitably provide recreation services to the broader community. One proposal, in fact, simulated a possible alternative which would allow all community centers to remain open, albeit with reduced hours, but with shared “hurt” to the entire community. This plan was in the process of review by council when additional funding was provided by the new acting City Manager which facilitated the opening of the remaining centers. The model is still available for simulating staffing changes, and can also be used as a budgetary tool to evaluate and re-allocate hours by center. A sample scheduling & staffing worksheet is attached.
• An off site strategic planning workshop was accomplished which identified several new initiatives, more visionary and strategic in nature, to work on over the next few years. They included two key projects - the development of a strategic plan for recreation and parks, and development of a new Advisory Council organization at each Community Center in which each Commissioner would be assigned a liaison role to work with city staff in improving the recreation programs at each Center. The Commission has toured each Community Center and prepared a draft document which provides a framework and guidelines for the operation of this Advisory Council. A final decision is expected in December.
• Other key projects worked on during this period include: The Commission applied for and was awarded a grant for $4600 to plant trees within the city. Various Commissioners participated in the planting of these trees. - Publicly lobbied at city council meetings for more monies to be allocated in the city budget for recreation & park programs. An increase in funds was voted for recreation programs at that meeting, as mentioned above. Advocated the use of attendance and data collection forms at each Community Center to ascertain current use for each program. This data will be used to identify opportunities for new programs through outreach to the community, and serve as a tool to conduct quick reviews of staffing and scheduling shortages or overstaffing conditions. This effort is currently being implemented. Three (3) Commissioners are currently serving on the General Plan Advisory Committee. This Committee is charged to review the City’s existing General Plan and to provide community input towards the development of a new General Plan for the City of Richmond. The Commission is in the process of touring all community centers and has identified safety and other facility repair issues at each center. For this effort, a template was developed to record information in a standardized format and to serve as a baseline document for comparison purposes for future improvements at centers. Development of a Recreation & Parks Commission web page
Public support for a variety of non-profit initiatives designed to improve recreation and park facilities within the City of Richmond.
Members of the Commission are: Debbi Landshoff, Lones T. Stern- Banks, Don Taylor, Anthony Mendocino, James Jenkins, E.J. Shalaby, Pamela Saucer-Bilbo, Kathy Robinson and Diego Garcia.