29 May Thank You to the Parks Team Members Working Hard to Keep Parks and Trails Open & Safe
Cincinnati Parks staff are working very hard to maintain our parks this season amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has created a tough situation this year for all of the Parks staff. Throughout they have, and continue to, rise to the challenge.
Consider that since April 5th 102 Staff positions, including all seasonal part time staff, were placed on furlough in response to the COVID-19 crisis gripping the world. On top of this, to ensure the health of the City workforce, the remaining staff began working staggered shifts, meaning only a portion of the remaining workforce was on the job at any given time. All of this happened at the same time the weather turned warm and normal maintenance responsibilities in the parks surge. These include things such as mowing, trash collection, litter pick-up, planting, mulching, weed removal, graffiti removal, cleaning and power washing.
COVID-19 also brought brand new responsibilities for Parks Staff such as cleaning restrooms every two hours, placing and maintaining safety signage throughout the system, and placing and maintaining barriers around closed features closed to preserve the public health such as playgrounds. Parks is happy to take these duties on in order to keep parks and trails as safe as possible for visitors.
All of this results in core activities, such as mowing, occurring less frequently (14-21 days) rather than the normal 7 days. And we all know how wet this spring has been, which doesn’t help. This impacts other regular maintenance activities like mulching, litter pick up, floral plantings and weed control.
Despite all of these challenges Parks Staff are doing a great job amid a difficult set of circumstances. Parks Director Kara Kish put it this way, “I am very proud of our team for accomplishing everything they have over the last several months. Though our numbers are greatly reduced, their dedication to the City, and our parks is evident.’’ She added, ”We also continue to receive strong support from our Park Commissioners, the Mayor, City Council and City Administration.”
The good news is that the staggered shifts ended May 17th effectively increasing the maintenance workforce by 60%. Weather permitting, all of the maintenance efforts are now focused on catching up with mowing, litter/trash pick-up, and restroom cleaning. In addition, when the team members on furlough return Parks will again be fully staffed, restoring service levels to prior years.
Kara Kish said she understands how frustrating this circumstance can be for everyone. “No one is interested in making excuses and I want everyone to know we are not lowering our standards. But it is important we explain and highlight the efforts of a dedicated team who is working very hard to keep our parks and trails safe, maintained and open for the enjoyment of the public during a tough time.”