Weathering Winter

Since staffing cuts usually occur in the winter months, it can also pose a problem when staff members want to take vacations or receive further training. “Our shoulder seasons are busier than in the past, which stretches the full-time staff after seasonal staff has left,” says Jim Hutton, parks superintendent for the NE division of Oregon Parks and Recreation.

Because of the staff shortage, many maintenance tasks are outsourced in Washington, D.C. About 80 percent of the work on the city’s 110 ball fields is contracted to ensure they all are maintained properly and safely. About half of the plumbing work is outsourced, and pool maintenance is contracted out as well.

“We don’t have the expertise or the machinery in-house,” says Hartsock. “Some facilities need a very high level of maintenance, and we contract as much of it as possible so the right people do it.”

The contracting companies have higher performance systems, and are able to invest in more efficient machinery since they use it on a larger scale.

Heather Reichle is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at

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