Q&A 2002

We polled five parks and recreation pros from around the country and got some interesting responses representing a diversity of subjects and opinions.

It’s our hope that you learn something of value and find a nugget of insight, inspiration or raw information. Or better yet, all of the above…

Next year we plan to expand on this concept but need your participation. Do you have a question that crops up a lot, and you don’t have a good answer?

One of the experts we talked to for another article in this issue is looking for the best way to coordinate the endings of multiple races so that everyone finishes around the same time. What is the best way to make that happen? Do you know?

Well, that’s what it’s all about. Whether you have questions or have some great answers to the challenges of running a parks and recreation department, we’d like to hear from you.

Send us an e-mail at editorial@northstarpubs.com, give us a call at (330) 721-9126, fax us at (330) 723-6598 or go to www.parksandrecbusiness.com.

Q: I’ve heard good things about these Credit/Debit Card systems that a lot of public agencies are using now. Are they really all that good and, if so, what makes them so great?

A: Many public agencies that used to use “blanket numbers” (usually a four- or five-digit code linked to the division code of the department) switched to various credit cards to accomplish the same purpose.

The “ProCards” allow purchases to be made by authorized representatives of a company (within pre-established parameters i.e. – “not to exceed $500 per purchase”) by simply using a designated Visa or MasterCard.

This replaces the old PO way where there was need to match an invoice with a delivery ticket with a purchase order. It reduces the paper pile by having all entries on one statement and it saves time having to sort though “coding” each delivery receipt. A variety of articles have been placed in publications created by the National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) and the National Institute of Governmental Procurement (NIGP) that endorse the use of Procards and most stories about them are stories of success.

ProCard usage will also streamline the future use of Internet buying as systems become more sophisticated.

Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks, a metropolitan park system that encircles Cuyahoga County and includes more than 20,000 acres of natural land, six golf courses, seven nature centers, a variety of special interest facilities and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Ron can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

Q: What’s an effective way to get management together for long-range planning?

A: Every November I meet with the team leaders of the Department for a two-day retreat at the location of another parks and recreation facility within the vicinity, but outside of the city.

We have an enormous agenda –- that all team leaders contribute to -– and we work through the department’s operations, including:

• Evaluating each team/division — If they are working effectively, personnel concerns, hours of operation for facilities, responsibilities, programs, services and events

• Reviewing the master plan for parks, recreation and culture — Establishing committees to accomplish the work set forth in the plan, reviewing accomplishments and setting goals for the next fiscal year

• Dissect the operating budget of each team, revenue and expenses, making recommendations for the next fiscal year

• Plan the department meetings and training for the next calendar year

• Review the capital improvements budget in conjunction with the master plan

• Evaluate vehicles for the department

• Discuss IT and HR needs, policies and concerns

Michele McGleish is the director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture, Gaithersburg, Md.

Q: How do I start an internship program?

A: Internship programs should be rewarding and beneficial for the sponsoring agency, the school and the intern. Therefore, it is important that the planning process include all three components.

First decide what you need an intern for — what they will do for you and what you will do for them. They should not be perceived as cheap labor to perform jobs no one else wants to do.

Interns can bring new energy and ideas to a department while you can provide experience and venues for on the job learning and development.

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