A Star editorial today tells of the challenges facing our parks department:
An inner city park is getting a makeover thanks to the generosity of a private company.
Brightpoint Incorporated is donating more than $50,000 and 1,200 volunteer hours to make improvements to Watkins Park on the city's northwest side. It's part of their annual week of caring.
They're resurfacing the softball field and basketball court as well as repairing the gym, play room and creating a computer lab.
"This is a wonderful example of exactly what Indy Parks needs as far as some great capital investment and a way to attack our deferred maintenance and build some long-term relationships with some new companies," said Indy Parks Director Stuart Lowry.
The Indy Parks has faced a $4 million budget cut this year and $2 million cut next year.
Parks leaders are relying on public-private partnerships to help make needed improvements.
Yet, parks director Stuart Lowry, a thoughtful and talented administrator who's starting his second year on the job, faces a more immediate challenge. The department must absorb a proposed $2.3 million budget cut in the next year -- with spending reduced from $29.4 million this year to $27.1 million in 2010.
Advocates point out that -- at $31 a resident -- Indianapolis' parks department already receives significantly fewer dollars per capita than systems in comparable cities. Columbus, Ohio, for instance, budgeted more than $47 per resident this year for its parks.
Let's see, how many sports palaces are Columbus, Ohio taxpayers supporting? We're spending at least $100 million a year on the CIB facilities, almost four times as much as we spend on our city park system. That works out to about $114 a person each year that we spend on the CIB. It says a lot about the priorities of the people who run this city.