After my article yesterday on the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation’s maintenance problems with parks, both grounds manager Derek Schultz and director Jesús Aguirre reached out to talk further. This stands in stark contrast to the National Park Service, which hasn’t engaged with parks advocates despite frequent efforts.
Schultz wrote in an e-mail yesterday,
I believe you make some valid points. I would love additional funding for grounds maintenance, but at the same time I feel that recent systematic improvements in our grounds management program deserve attention. Some recent improvements include: installation of computerized central irrigation system for various field sites (makes automatic adjustments to ensure we irrigate at the proper levels) routine planting bed maintenance at 99 high profile DPR locations, implementation of permit limitations at our premier natural turf fields (ensures the long term-sustainability of these fields).
Government agencies seem to take one of two responses to criticism: sullen silence or active engagement.
Before this year, WMATA generally ignored its critics, didn’t participate much on social media, and couldn’t decide whether their media relations department should or shouldn’t answer questions from bloggers. Then, with new management, they flipped entirely and started engaging.
It doesn’t mean every problem is getting fixed, but it’s a huge start toward a dialogue. Sometimes an agency has reasons for a decision which aren’t apparent to others. If we at least know the reason, we might not all agree, but we can gain a better understanding of the constraints that hamper our officials.
[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]
David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.