Over the last 3 years, the budget of the Mt. Airy Sports Complex in New Windsor, N.Y., has been significantly reduced while during the same period field usage more than tripled.
This has forced an inevitable situation that many agencies find themselves in, to “do more with less.”
After evaluating the budget, the parks and recreation department made several suggestions in order to achieve this goal:
Buy Supplies In Bulk
Instead of ordering supplies as needed, order for the entire season at once. Purchase all field clay, field paint, field chalk, field-drying agents, fertilizer, seed, garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towels, and miscellaneous items to save with bulk quantities.
Make sure there is enough secure, dry storage available to accommodate all of these supplies.
Dodge The Shipping Bullet
With the rising cost of gasoline, the price of shipping has increased. Many companies are not only charging for freight, but also adding a fuel surcharge.
If possible, use department trucks and manpower to pick up supplies and equipment. One word of caution: Be sure the trucks are large enough, and are in reasonable condition with certified drivers to travel the distance.
When working on drainage and irrigation projects, or completing tasks such as hauling supplies, rolling fields, etc., borrow manpower and equipment from neighboring cities and/or departments.
In New Windsor, the town highway department lends a hand during projects, and when that department needs extra help manning garbage and recycling trucks, or leaf pick-ups, the assistance is reciprocated.
This teamwork not only accomplishes necessary tasks, but does so without costing additional money to hire outside help.
Utilize Natural Resources
Repurpose materials when possible instead of creating additional expenses. For instance, when expanding a baseball/softball skinned field to be large enough for a full-sized men’s baseball field, use a sod cutter and the sod remnants to make repairs on other fields.
When planning for a walking path, use wood chips from downed tree limbs for surfacing materials.
Rotate Play On Fields
Although it is common for fields to be overused, this practice is much too costly for already-stretched budgets. Take some fields out of play for periods of time to allow them to recover naturally.
Maximize Usage With Field Flexibility
Plan to accommodate the needs of more groups on fewer fields. For instance, skinned infields make it easier for softball and baseball to be played on the same field because the bases can be set anywhere from 60 to 90 feet apart. Additionally, using portable pitching mounds allows them to be removed so the same field can be used for softball games.
Be Frugal Using Resources
Spread resources a little thinner--literally. Delay the amount of time between fertilizer applications by using a slow-release formula.
Cross-train seasonal staff, including field-maintenance workers, concession-stand workers, and summer-camp counselors, to give the department greater flexibility. This will also keep employees productive at all times.
Accept Donations To Offset Expenses, Operate At An Optimal Level
Developing solid working relationships with organizations that use the facilities extensively may convince them to help by purchasing needed equipment or tools. In addition to giving a tax deduction, offer recognition with a plaque or sign in the park, as well as publicity with the local media outlets.
In this way, these organizations can give back to the community as well as help keep the park running efficiently.
Matt Veronesi is the Director of Parks, Recreation, Buildings & Grounds for the town of New Windsor, N.Y. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Ray Sharo is a member of the grounds crew for the town of New Windsor. For more information, visit www.nwrecisfun.com.