Park commissioner proposes streamlined agency

A Vashon Park District commissioner has put forward a proposal to address the agency’s ongoing financial problems by dramatically reducing the scope of its services.

David Hackett, who’s serving his second term on the five-member commission, has issued a four-page paper calling for a district that offers very few programs. Instead, he says, the district should become what he calls a public facilities maintenance and operations district, focused on maintaining facilities, fields, parks and natural areas.

“The park district has tried to be ‘all things to all people.’ In a period of declining tax revenue, this approach is no longer feasible,” he writes in his memo, titled “Transforming the Park District: A Sustainable Model for Serving the Public.”

Under his proposal, the district would reduce its personnel and operational costs by no longer offering several classes it currently sponsors — such as health, fitness and dance classes. The district would also no longer provide administrative support and oversight to a number of community groups, including rowing, baseball and soccer.

“Lots of different organizations provide classes. We don’t need to be in that business,” he said in an interview last week.

The proposal, he said, would enable the district “to put our money where we’d get the most bang for it.”

According to his plan, some of the agency’s most popular programs would still be offered, such as Concerts in the Park and Kite Day at Point Robinson. By reducing its expenses, he added, the park district would be able to continue to operate the pool; the skate park and Kayak Center, meanwhile, would pay for themselves, he said.

Hackett plans to put the proposal before commissioners at their meeting Tuesday night, 7 p.m. at the district's Ober Park district.


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