Lodi officials in talks with BOBS about its future
Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood told city leaders that his department is still having discussions with the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports about their future partnership during Tuesday’s city council shirtsleeve session at Carnegie Forum.
Hood and Deputy Director Cathi DeGroot recently met with BOBS officials during their monthly board meeting to discuss the financial challenges and limited staffing the department is experiencing.
The department is expected to establish three new parks — Rose Gate, Villa Fiore, Orchard Lane Park — and maintain a walking trail in Reynolds Ranch within the coming year.
“As we face the challenge of stagnant funding and more parks to maintain we are looking to allocate resources from the recreation side to the maintenance side,” Hood said.
Hood said discussions between the groups have been positive.
According to Hood, he has been transparent about the budgetary constraints facing the department and noted that the BOBS have shouldered more responsibility in recent years, including lining the ball fields.
“It’s not a matter of not wanting to, I don’t have the bodies, the people do not exist anymore. We don’t have the part-time labor, which we rely on for field maintenance,” Hood said.
Lodi resident Alex Aliferis suggested the city look into public-private partnerships — agreements between government agencies and private-sector companies that can be used to finance and operate projects, including park maintenance, to save money provide the manpower needed to maintain parks.
“There are a lot of landscape companies in town, and we have plenty of manpower in the city that you could hire landscapers to maintain the parks,” Aliferis said.
While the BOBS continue to work with the city on maintenance issues, Hood said parks and rec staff is still being overwhelmed by administrative work.
The department currently does the fingerprinting for volunteer coaches, they input sport registrations and other administrative work.
Councilman Bob Johnson questioned the administrative costs, and inquired if the city could find ways to lessen the financial and time-consuming tasks that have encumbered staff.
“The city pays to fingerprint the volunteer coaches every two years, but the school district fingerprints teachers once. Why are we paying to fingerprint coaches we have already fingerprinted?” Johnson asked.
Hood said the city has erred on the side of caution and followed recommendation to fingerprint volunteers every two years.
“I reached out to Assemblyman (Jim) Cooper’s office and asked if there was any possible way Cooper can get the law changed to reduce the fees for fingerprinting with volunteer youth coaches. They said they would look at it, but I haven’t heard anything yet,” Johnson said.
Hood responded to Johnson’s inquiry regarding the cost to fingerprint coaches, clarifying that time was also a concern.
“We fingerprint over 200 people every year. That is a lot of time for each person on staff. It takes a couple of weeks to get through the documentation,” Hood said.
Kurt Anderson, a BOBS board member, addressed the council and said the group is committed to doing whatever they can to maintain their programs and their relationship with the city.
“We have talked internally about taking on additional administrative roles. We are not only able, but ready to take those challenges on,” Anderson said. “I am hoping we can start negotiations quickly and work out the details. BOBS isn’t going away anytime soon, I can promise you that.”
Johnson reminded the council and city staff of the 60-years relationship with the BOBS, and the important role they have in the community.
“When I was here 40 years ago they finished building Salas Park. They have contributed mightily to park capital projects, which has alleviated the burden on the parks budget,” Johnson said.