BELLINGHAM - Replacement of the artificial turf at Civic Field is on the 2013 agenda at the city Parks Department.
Parks Director James King mentioned the turf project during a quick overview of his 2013 budget proposals at a City Council committee session Monday, Oct. 15.
King told the council that the turf had been expected to last about 10 years and is now 12 years old. The new stuff - a more advanced design - should last 15 to 18 years.
King lumped the cost of that project in with a resurfacing project at the city pool and said the total will come to about $640,000.
In other matters, King said he and his staff will be looking for better ways to manage the city's community gardens. He suggested that garden users could form organizations with members who would work their garden plots while also taking responsibility for management and maintenance from the city.
Also in 2013, King said his department expects to take over the scheduling of events at Depot Market Square downtown, relieving the Public Works Department of that responsibility. He also expects to develop a business plan to get more use out of Woodstock Farm, a city-owned property south of town that is available for social events and hosted five weddings and a funeral last year.
King said he also will be looking for ways to reduce the public subsidy for the pool, where expenditures exceed revenues by more than $400,000 a year. But he added that he wants to keep the pool affordable for the public.
King dazzled the council with his command of detail when Stan Snapp asked about park restrooms. Without checking his notes, King replied that the parks department has 25 restrooms with a total of 157 toilets.
King also informed council members that he had earned the nickname "potty director" in his previous job as director of Alaska state parks, because he had spearheaded installation of a number of concrete restrooms that were resistant to gunfire.
King told the council that the city's organized parks programs counted 1.2 million signups last year, which he said is a remarkable number for a city this size.
Bellingham voters' support for tax increases to support Greenways levies is further evidence of a community commitment to its parks system, and King said he is doing his best to meet public expectations in a time of tight budgets.
"We've just come down a long slope of budget cuts and reductions over the last five years, and we're hitting a plateau," King told the council.
King's budget proposal calls for total spending of about $12.7 million in 2013, up about 3 percent from the current year.