According to an article posted Feb. 23 by the Indianapolis Star, an evaluation by the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation has determined that the city will need $100 million to fix the maintenance problems that Indy parks are currently facing. From pools to playgrounds to parking lots, the list of needed repairs is a very long one indeed, and finding the funds to make them possible is no small matter, either.
Where Has All the Money Gone?
It appears to be a case of the squeaky wheel getting all the attention. Available funds are typically utilized to address emergency situations, such as leaky roofs or dangerous equipment failures. When all is said and done, there's just not enough left over to adequately fix more routine problems.
Instead, the trend is to opt for temporary -- and ultimately, ineffective -- fixes that all too often result in minor problems becoming major ones. The end result is that such problems cost taxpayers far more money than they would have had they been fixed properly at the outset.
Seeing Money Go Down the Drain
Consider the following case in point. It costs taxpayers $87,000 to fill 15 outdoor pools at the start of each summer, but an additional $387,000 -- over 4 times the initial amount -- is required to replace water that leaks out due to maintenance problems. A particularly pitiful example is Bethel Pool, which reportedly lost 100,000 gallons of water -- or about half the pool’s total water supply –- every day last summer. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, the parks department opted to install a new pool liner that sadly falls short of a sufficient fix.
Indy Residents Will Pay the Price
To the extent that Indy parks crumble, so do Indy residents' opportunities to experience outdoor recreation at a price they can afford. The park board has decided to compensate for some of the deficit by increasing admission and utilization fees for some recreational facilities. Other funding possibilities include federal stimulus money and corporate sponsorship.
Hopefully, these efforts will be enough to give Indy parks the boost they need. In big cities like ours, carving out a little space for kids of all ages to enjoy the great outdoors should be considered a priority.