Here's a sneak preview of our Friday editorial on the city of Boise's parks maintenance policy.
No, Boise City Hall isn’t being run by a bunch of recalcitrant, yardwork-averse teenagers. When City Hall blows off chores like mowing and weeding, it’s all in the name of science.
City leaders have made the conscious and goofy decision to quietly neglect a handful of parks this summer, just to see if people would notice and care.
Asked and answered. More than 110 people noticed this stealth experiment, and they care. They’re angry, and who can blame them? They want their parks maintained.
Who’d have thunk it?
Boiseans do not want their City of Trees to become the City of Weeds.
Boiseans value their parks. In City Hall’s most recent citizens’ survey, conducted in November 2010, 77 percent of respondents said they visited a city park at least once a month, while 34 percent visited at least weekly. But when Boiseans are asked to rank their funding priorities, parks and open space rank lag behind public safety, attracting and retaining businesses, environmental protection, planning for growth and public transportation.
The results may be mixed, but at least the yardstick is systematic — a scientific, $35,000 survey of Boiseans. There’s nothing scientific about the parks sneaky maintenance “experiment.” Consequently, the results are utterly predictable: Neglected parks don’t look as good, and the Boiseans who took the initiative to call City Hall aren’t happy.
Understandably, city leaders are exploring cost-cutting options, since they anticipate revenues will be tight in the years to come. Before writing a two-year budget that would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2013, they want to gauge the on-the-ground impacts of reducing parks maintenance, a move that could save $340,000 cq a year. Jade Riley, chief of staff to Mayor Dave Bieter, said the city could ask a parks maintenance question in its next citizen survey, in the works for the fall.
Well, that would make sense. But the city’s plan is to continue the maintenance experiment, collecting more public comment in the fall.
That makes for a long, weedy summer. And this experiment isn’t even a secret anymore. Call us spoilers, but Thursday’s Statesman front-page article helped blow the city’s cover.
The news is out, City Hall. Of course, this never should have been a secret in the first place.