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Tulsa To Consider Reorganization To Improve City Parks

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Three years ago, at least 30 Parks Department Maintenance employees were moved to Public Works. Three years ago, at least 30 Parks Department Maintenance employees were moved to Public Works.
News On 6 randomly selected one park and easily found hazards that maintenance had missed. News On 6 randomly selected one park and easily found hazards that maintenance had missed.
Terry Simonson, Mayor Bartlett's Chief Of Staff. Terry Simonson, Mayor Bartlett's Chief Of Staff.

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- There are new developments out of Tulsa City Hall, where there's some new attention on the Parks Department.

5/20/2011 Related Story: City Of Tulsa To Increase Park Inspections

The Parks Department is saddled with complex needs and a budget that's an easy target for cuts.  Now some of what's been taken from the Parks Department might be coming back, starting with parks and playground maintenance.

"It's great to hear of something where the council and the mayor are in agreement and it sounds like we do agree that parks maintenance needs to be back under the parks department," Councilor G.T. Bynum said.

The City Council started the discussion of poor maintenance, and last week, in one randomly selected park, News On 6 easily found hazards that maintenance had missed. Public Works responded quickly to fix those problems.

The Mayor's Chief of Staff says the administration wants to see improvements in the parks.

"It's not the kind of quality parks department the people in this community want and expect," Terry Simonson said. "There is certainly a history of not protecting the assets that people have already paid for."

Three years ago, at least 30 Parks Department Maintenance employees were moved to Public Works.

"And it seems, at least anecdotally, that ever since then maintenance has not been as good as it was before that decision was made," Simonson said.

Councilor Bynum said he's satisfied the city bureaucracy is acting to improve parks but also wants a more careful review before what was pulled out of parks is handed back.

"We don't want to wholesale toss everything back at the parks when there might be some areas in public works where it might make sense for them to have that oversight role," Bynum said.

Any reorganization is still months away, but public works is starting with biweekly inspections of playground equipment and everyone at city hall is promising to put more money into new equipment and better maintenance of Tulsa's parks.

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