Aug 24, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterPublic services director Bill Urbigkit heaped praises on park superintendent Joel Blury and lands division manager Paul Throckmartin during the Riverton City Council work session Aug. 14.
During the meeting, Urbigkit presented council members with information about the parks department and the park employees who work to make the city's 15 parks aesthetically pleasing.
"I can't say enough about our park staff," Urbigkit said. "The combined amount of experience with our parks department amounts to 133 years of experience."
Urbigkit said mowing the park grass takes up a large percentage of time, but daily maintenance, irrigation, bathroom duties and care of the baseball fields also keep park employees busy.
Urbigkit said Riverton parks have not had herbicides applied to them in 14 years.
"We have healthy turf and the reason is we work hard to have that," Urbigkit said.
He said the city hires three to five summer employees who take care of mosquito fogging and mowing weeds on city property, among other tasks.
Councilman Todd Smith said it would be nice to have someone from the private sector give the council a different perspective on park maintenance.
Smith said he was concerned with mowing on public holidays, particularly on Memorial Day, as a respect issue and because holidays are typically days people want to spend time at a park. He said he didn't understand why city employees were mowing during the holiday.
Urbigkit said mowing on holidays is mainly because park workers get into a habit and for them it was just another day.
"I understand about Memorial Day," Urbigkit said. "We have employees willing to do this, and for a huge sector it is a day off to go play with their kids. When you work in the parks department you know when you are hired that you are going to cut grass in the summertime, and sometimes that means mowing on a holiday."
Jerry Kintzler, the owner of Jerry's Flowers and Things, said he wanted to compliment the park staff, and he read a lengthy list of their daily duties, which included daily cleanup and maintenance of 14 restrooms, a skate park, the bandshell, picnic shelters and picnic tables; litter and trash pickup; removal of graffiti; and mowing and visual inspections of ball park complexes and 15 parks.
"I think the parks department does a commendable job," Kintzler said. "They do a lot more than grass, and I think sometimes we can get very picky. I didn't realize what a small staff they have, but I think they are worth everything we spend."
Councilman Richard Gard suggested having a council session to find ways to assist the employees.
"I have seen what goes on at the parks during the hours of 4 p.m. to 6 a.m.," Gard said. "These gentlemen do not need to be put through what they are having to deal with. Whether that takes more law enforcement or closure of parks, something needs to be suggested because of the condition these parks are left in."
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