Melvin Cooper joined the parks department of Gainesville, Ga., nearly 50 years ago after an internship, and he'll retire in May after leading the department for 29 years. "He makes it clear to everyone that he expects a certain level of excellence from everything that we do," says Julie Butler-Colombini, who manages marketing and communications for the department.
Albuquerque, N.M., has a self-imposed goal of cleaning up items such as needles or used condoms within one hour of residents reporting them through 311 or the OneABQ app. A TV station tested this response time by reporting two needles and found it lacking in one instance.
The Seattle Parks Department has formed an advisory group to help it cope with maintenance demands for 16 viewpoints, as well as more than 280,000 trees across the city. A public meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24.
A grant program in New York will provide $45 million to 57 counties and New York City to improve emergency communications and expand interoperability throughout the state. "We're making sure that municipalities have the technology they need to improve emergency systems and operate efficiently," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
A proposed $5.2 million bond in Sandoval County, N.M., would help improve communication systems for first responders and senior centers. The measure would also help the county be proactive about cybersecurity and change its server space to be more efficient, said IT director Jerri Paul-Seaborn.
Officials in Edinburg, Texas, hired Juan Guerra, a former Marine, for the post of city manager. Guerra's time as the Pharr City, Texas, manager was marked by a tax rate decrease of more than three cents and a reduction in the unemployment rate.
Parks are just as important to communities as the police and fire departments yet often receive less respect and funding, which is one reason the National Recreation and Park Association can do more on park advocacy, writes NRPA board Chairman Jack Kardys. "We will build our philanthropic capacity to provide you with the resources needed to sustain this nationwide parks movement," he writes.
Forest rangers overseeing New York state parks in the Adirondacks and Catskills say they are stretched thin, covering nearly twice as much acreage per employee as in the 1970s. New York forest rangers have a range of duties, including rescue operations, and are employed by the Department of Environmental Conservation's Division of Forest Protection.
Construction work on the 60-acre Unity Park in Greenville, S.C., is expected to kick off in October 2019, with the total cost of the project estimated at $72.8 million. The park will include a 10-story observation tower, a pedestrian bridge over Reedy River and a pathway parallel to the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Play is important to children's health and psychological development, and playground design in the US is evolving to incorporate natural elements and environments that encourage unstructured play without neglecting safety, say advocates and landscape architects. "We want kids to be testing their limits in a place that's designed for that to happen," says Mark Reigelman, designer of Sweetwater Playground at Domino Park in New York City.