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Covington seeks part-time parks planner
As the city of Covington works to fulfill the recreation needs and wants of its residents, the search is on for a parks planner.
Scott Thomas, the city’s parks and recreation director, said that if Covington continues at its current rate of one new park every 16 years it will take quite a while to meet demand.
“If we look at the city’s 16 year history we haven’t reached our park acquisition and development goals, we’re actually not even all that close,” Thomas said. “We have to figure out a way to pick up the pace.”
To that end, Thomas said, he requested a half-time parks planner during the 2013 budget process last year. He also wants to update the city’s parks capital improvement plan which was originally adopted in 2005.
“The city has goals about how many acres of parks we want, how many trails, how many ballfields,” Thomas said. “This is a plan for meeting those goals. We need a plan to deliver the parks system the community wants.”
Thomas said he wants to request funding and staff time for project oriented work as well as for a consultant to study a park impact fee. Though the city received a commerce grant to help pay for the second phase of Covington Community Park, Thomas will need to find additional cash for that part of the project, so he also will seek funding through grant applications.
As for the parks planner position which was advertised in late July, interviews began Monday.
“We got quite a few qualified candidates,” Thomas said. “I was excited to read the applications.”
The plan is to conduct interviews through the end of this month with the goal for the person to start in late September or early October. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, according to the job posting on Covington’s website, with at least two years of work experience with increasing responsibility. The posting said the city “is seeking a creative and highly motivated Parks Planner to assist in the development of a parks system (parks, natural areas, open spaces, wildlife habitats and other recreational projects, facilities and trails) that meets citizen needs in a young and growing city.”
Thomas explained there are two immediate needs for the parks planner to tackle when that person starts.
“We have to get the (parks) CIP updated to be ready for the city’s comprehensive plan update,” Thomas said. “The parks CIP needs to be incorporated into that comp plan update.”
Covington updates its comprehensive plan, which is a blueprint for the city’s long term growth and development, every few years. The parks CIP Thomas refers to is the list of projects which have yet to be built that would add to the city’s recreational options in terms of parks, open spaces and trails. That parks CIP needs to be updated, Thomas said, because it doesn’t provide the kind of guidance necessary as staff move forward with those kinds of projects.
“We also have timelines that we have to meet for Covington Community Park phase two, including getting to a certain level of design for grant applications at the state level next spring,” Thomas said. “If we don’t hit those deadlines … then the project is in trouble. When that (new parks planner) starts, they’re going to be focused on diving in and understanding our capital needs.”