Dependable Erection

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Parks and Rec

Seems to me that Durham's Parks and Rec Department has only themselves to blame for this clusterfuck. Years after presenting a master plan for OND park, with no intention of ever finding the finding for it, they encouraged a private/public partnership to take the initiative. Who could have foreseen that there might be competing interests when it comes to a neighborhood park?

Can't say our city council is covering itself in glory over this either. If citizens could work out every difference between competing interest groups, we wouldn't exactly need an elected leadership, would we?

Durham's a big enough city to have a parks master plan and the funding to implement it. flying by the seat of our pants may be the Durham tradition, but it doesn't bode well for a long marriage.

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  • Oh, I don't know that I'd blame Parks and Rec in this instance. The parties on either side of this have either fumbled this badly repeatedly or worked in bad faith.

    OND Park wasn't ever officially designated a park, as far as I know. It's the playground for a closed school. The CPSC folks have some good ideas, but have been way too officious about the whole matter. The opponents have made themselves impossible to deal with.

    I'd say this is a case of a tone-deaf nonprofit dealing with incompetent resistance. Parks and Rec is caught in the middle of a problem they didn't create.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 2:11 PM  

  • Michael - there is an official city parks sign at the site designating it as a city park.

    DPR presented a plan for the park for the community in 2005. But, as with so many other parks, it never established a source of funds, leaving a void which FONDP sought to fill.

    My understanding is that DPR encouraged this, although i admit that i wasn't behind the scenes on that and could have that wrong.

    Once "community opposition" in the form of El Kilombo showed up, DPR backpedaled, the city council punted, and the various parties were asked to come to an agreement on their own.

    By Blogger Barry, at 2:23 PM  

  • As I understand it, OND Park was designated a park at the urging of CPSC, with the understanding that CPSC would get to do what they wanted with it and the community would be happy to have a new park. I had thought that it was still up in the air if it was transferred to DPR, but I'd forgotten about the official sign.

    Anita Keith-Foust has been hammering on CPSC's proposed/existing management of the park for at least five years now, perhaps longer, delivering impassioned comments before council throughout. (the point I remember her making was that the agreement state that the land should transfer from DPS to the "city of Durham" and that didn't mean the government of the city of Durham. She was accusing Mark Greenspan of being a liar at the time, calling him "Mark Liarspan.")

    The sad thing to me about the whole thing is that CPSC probably is doing the community a favor, but their public comments sound horrible. The El Kilombo folks are making good critical points, but they're being horrifically amateurish about it. The whole thing just depresses me.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 3:00 PM  

  • The interactions I've had with parks and recreation have shown them to be some of the most responsive and caring individuals in the entire city government.

    I don't understand why the folks at El Kilombo demanded and received more public comment and hearing and then refused to participate in the discussion that they requested? How does that help meet the needs of the community (either that represented by El Kilombo or Friends of Old North Durham Park)?

    By Blogger Natalie, at 3:05 PM  

  • FONDP and CPSC are, at least nominally, separate organizations.

    There is no current proposal to have CPSC fund, maintain, operate, or limit access to the park.

    that was the reason, as i understand it, for the formation of FONDP in the first place. It's not hard to read between the lines and determine that happened with the approval, at least, of DPR, and most likely at DPR's suggestion.

    EK is being worse than amateurish. Their public statements that FONDP wants to close the park to the public because of black and Hispanic gang activity are willfully false.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:08 PM  

  • @Natalie - this morning an old piece of playground equipment was removed from Duke Park and destroyed. DPNA requested several years ago, when i was DPNA president, that this particular piece of equipment be made available to the neighborhood association, in a fashion similar to how obsolete equipment from Oval Drive park in Watts Hillandale neighborhood, was made available to WHHNA when that park was renovated a decade or so ago.

    We were told at the time it shouldn't be a problem.

    This morning, one of our neighborhood parents noticed workers removing the equipment and attempted to instigate a chain of events to retrieve it. Within two hours it was at the land fill having been crushed beyond use.

    This in a park where our city has allowed an historic building, abandoned and unused except to store old paper bills and such, for nearly 18 fucking years, to such an extent that repairing it is estimated by the city to cost well over a million dollars.

    Yeah, there's some people in Parks and Rec who give a shit about their work.

    There's also a degree of incompetence from the top down that really, really, needs to be weeded out.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:14 PM  

  • On a different, but related, subject, I am amazed at how undemocratic public hearings become.

    My favorite example: the city is trying to re-zone W Chapel Hill St. They held two public meetings, each with more than 50 attendants, and got the support of various neighborhood groups, property owners, and non-profits in the area. The proposal was worked out, and presented to the groups for their approval. They overwhelmingly liked it.

    Then comes a public hearing at the Planning Commission. One resident showed up in opposition (and about 8 in favor). This resident got the zoning changed away from what was agreed upon. It's wholly undemocratic. Yet, somehow, it was done to be "democratic".

    I get the same idea from the ONDP deal. A plan was made, folks attended public hearings, and the plan was accepted. Now some folks from EK want to fight it, and they can hold up the project however long they damn well please.

    By Blogger Rob Gillespie, at 4:38 PM  

  • The crux of the matter is that EK is absolutely opposed to any private investment in the park. Period. There is no room for negotiation.
    I wish that the city could find the money to fix the park, but that will happen sometime around the time that the East End Connector is built.

    By Blogger Steve Graff, at 10:38 AM  

  • @Steve - i believe the problem is actually that the city does not have a functioning parks policy.

    It's been able to find the money to invest in certain specific parks over the past decade and a half since the 1996 bond issue. This is generally in response to effective neighborhood pressure. See Oval Drive Park for an example of this.

    On occasion, the city gets out of the way and lets other folks handle the heavy lifting. See Durham Central Park.

    The rest of the time, the city over promises and under delivers. It flies by the seat of its pants. And it has absolutely no contingency plan to deal with the unexpected. I'm sure P&R fully expected that private renovation of OND park would generate the same enthusiasm as greeted DCP. That's why they felt comfortable presenting a plan for park renovations that they had no intention of carrying out or providing funds for.

    El Kilombo is, i'm sorry to say, no more than a fly in the ointment. I'd like to respect their aims, but their methodology is so poor, and their line is so academic, that's it's hard not to laugh at them.

    I hope that FONDP simply refuses to attend any subsequent meetings, and presents its plans to Council, who should either accept them as is, or find the damn money to renovate the park the way they said they would.

    This isn't rocket science.

    By Blogger Barry, at 10:56 AM  

  • It'd be easier to laugh at EK if they weren't actually holding up the process...

    By Blogger fletch, at 3:46 PM  

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