City of Lincoln
2009 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today announced several new initiatives for the Parks and Recreation Department, including a new Web site and logo and enhanced volunteer programs. The Mayor said the changes are a cost-effective way to improve public communication, increase participation in Parks and Rec programs and provide more resources to the department.
"Lincoln residents understand that a healthy parks and recreation system is vital to our community," Beutler said. "We are fortunate to have dedicated employees who have done a great job of absorbing budget cuts in ways that have the least impact on residents. We believe these new initiatives will strengthen our system, and we encourage the public to let us know how they feel about the changes."
Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said the department will no longer provide a printed brochures on its facilities and programs three times a year, which will save about $100,000 annually. That information will be provided on a redesigned Web site at parks.lincoln.ne.gov. Johnson said that by the end of the year, the department hopes to have all facility reservations and program registrations available online to add convenience and save paper. Those without Internet access can use computers at City's libraries and recreation centers. Printed program sheets also are available at park facilities.
"Parks and Rec has a new look, with a new logo and a more user-friendly Web site," Johnson said. "We also have a new tag line reminding people that parks are 'fundamental' to our major City budget outcome areas - youth development, active living, neighborhoods and families, special places and community events and economic development." Johnson said the new initiative, which includes an awareness campaign, will cost less than mailing one program guide, thanks to a nearly two-for-one match from media partners. The communications initiative was developed with the assistance of a senior advertising class at the UNL College of Journalism.
Johnson said new volunteer initiatives will help expand and solidify opportunities for individuals, businesses and organizations to help the parks and recreation system. A new system will track information about volunteers to keep them active and engaged, and provide an annual recognition event.
The department also is starting a new maintenance program called "Adopt a Lincoln Landscape." The first corporate partner is State Farm Insurance, which is committing 100 people to give up to two hours a week throughout the growing season for four park areas.
"State Farm has a strong tradition of volunteerism nationwide and here at the local level," said Tim McCarty, Chairman of State Farm's Good Neighbor Committee. "We are very excited to be part of this new parks initiative as our company and our employees acknowledge that Lincoln's parks and recreation facilities and programs are fundamental to making Lincoln a great place to work and live."
The City now has 125 parks and 128 miles of trails. About 8.5 cents of each City tax dollar goes to support Parks and Recreation facilities and programs. The cost per capita to support the department is 27 percent less than the national average according to a 2007 study by the Trust for Public Lands.
The Parks and Recreation department is responsible for generating $2.5 million in revenue every year. Johnson said the new initiatives could result in generating closer to $3 million.
"Our goal through these efforts to increase revenue to the department through greater participation from the community in programs, volunteering and support," he said. "As our City grows, so does demand for beautiful public places. Even with shrinking City budgets, our staff remains committed to being accessible through our new Web site and to providing high quality facilities and recreation programs that everyone can enjoy."