An internal audit that found oversight of parks employees and a contractor that maintains park sites was lacking has prompted several changes in the Community Services & Parks Department, according to a city report released this week.
The changes include requiring the contractor to submit weekly schedules outlining work performed, provide a work checklist to staff, implement a regular schedule of playground safety checks and log all public park complaints in one system for follow-up.
“Identifying the problems and offering solutions is a good thing,” said Rodney Khan, temporary president of the Parks, Recreations & Community Services Commission, during a commission meeting Monday.
The December 2011 audit stated that by not requiring the contractor to submit a work schedule, the city could be paying for services that aren’t rendered; and without a centralized complaint system, customer-service levels were deficient.
Senior Parks Services Manager Koko Panossian said parks officials are now combing through the contractor’s submitted schedules to ensure they’re in line with the agreement with the city; and managers are inspecting twice-monthly work schedules completed and signed by employees.
“If the contractor misses [some work], we’re looking at holding back payment for work that’s not in compliance [with the contract],” Panossian said.
Eight audit recommendations have been put into place, but there are still some problems, such as graffiti and vandalism, which are difficult to control.
Panossian said the parks department tries to respond to graffiti complaints within 24 hours, but the vandalism continues. For example, parks staff members have found bathroom mirrors cracked and doors broken at some parks and even if they fix the problem, the bathrooms are vandalized again.
Panossian said once officials detect a pattern, they contact the Glendale Police Department, which then increases patrols of those parks.
Commissioner Ara Kalfayan called on the city to add security cameras to the parks to catch the culprits. While security cameras have been included in some new park renovations, such as Carr Park, installing them everywhere is a costly expense the city can’t afford, Panossian said.
Community Services and Parks Director Jess Duran said officials are considering creating a parks ambassador program, which would tap volunteers to watch over the city’s green spaces. With fewer employees, extra eyeballs on the parks would help, he said.
The city laid off its parks naturalists due to budget cuts about two years ago. Last year, an across-the-board reduction of more than 150 employees through early retirements and layoffs also impacted park staffing.
Cutting the positions was necessary to get the city’s finances in line, officials had said.
But as a result, “We don’t have as much staff to patrol and monitor the parks,” Duran said.
The program would resemble Glendale’s successful Trail Safety Patrol, which launched last year with about two dozen volunteers from around Los Angeles County that guard the city’s vast trail system in the Verdugo Mountains and San Rafael Hills.
The volunteers also watch over the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, a short trail along the Los Angeles River.
Trail Safety Patrol volunteers give advice to hikers and bicyclists and they report maintenance issues or problems to city officials.
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