Parks Cuts

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Lansing is one step closer, and still many steps away, on a final budget for next year. Tuesday, department heads made new recommendations after hearing public complaint; much of it centering around the Parks and Recreation budget.

So far, Lansing's Parks and Recreation department is the one feeling the brunt of the cuts in this budget process. A proposed fee on pools has been dropped, but there are still many other proposals to consider.

Mayor Benavides' Exec. Asst. David Wiener says they're proposing fee increases on nearly everything.

Lansing City Council President Sandy Allen says, "What we're hearing from citizens is that they wouldn't mind paying a little more as long as they're still there for them."

Wiener says those increases won't fix the deficit. In addition, they've proposed cuts including:

  • the Deputy Director position in the Parks Dept.
  • Washington Park outdoor ice rink
  • three community center programmers
  • seasonal workers at pools, Fenner Nature Center, Turner Dodge House
  • reduced hours and a reduced season at many aforementioned recreation sites

They are all cuts in recreation, and not parks services because, "There is a common opinion that recreation is where the cuts are because people can go elsewhere for recreation," explains Murdock Jemerson, director of the Parks and Recreation department.

To make up the rest, they'll use almost half of a $2 million parks mileage for repair and maintenance. It was originally for new projects, but Allen, Jemerson, and Wiener all say much of it will be used up on other things.

"We'll have 1.2 million left to do improvements," Jemerson says. He says he'll fight for money previously set aside for River Trail improvements. Allen says that's not a place the city should spend. Expect a battle over that money in the future.

The city council only had time to touch on these proposed cuts. Much more will happen in budget wrap up meetings still ahead.