Corey Nufer › Knollwood Park November 23, 2012 at 9:35am
Jimmy, I want to start by saying that this message will be abrasive, and that it is not my intent to target or insult you personally in any way.
The trash cans throughout the entire park are the exact same as the ones in the outlying areas, some even have a city stamp on them and were physically placed there by the city. The fact is that you have Gator ATVs, you have employees, and you have one employee that can spend the single hour each month to empty all garbage cans at a small park like Knollwood. You say this is about "responsible" adults picking up after themselves, well, the majority of them do, but it's hard to continue doing so when the people that ARE responsible for the park will not remove the filled cans. That is the city's responsibility and they have shirked that responsibility for years. You can threaten me all you want, but the evidence is obvious that Frances Jewell and the City of Kalamazoo Department of Parks and Recreation has been irresponsible in the maintenance of this park.
You see me pointing out the problems that the city IS responsible for, and you take offense and get hostile rather than doing something to change the culture of apathy at your department. Mark Polega insisted that I was too negative about the situation and as a result, decided to ignore the pleas of park goers and I can see that this attitude is institutionalized. As a 20 year employee of the city, I would expect you to see the the point in the idea that it is the Parks department's job to maintain the parks. As I see it, leaving every garbage can full and overflowing is lazy, leaving it to a disc golfer to organize clean up days is lazy, and it is disconcerting to me that you would place responsibility of the job your people are paid to accomplish on the shoulders of park goers. This is not about the "service I am getting now" frankly, you should be angry at just how apathetic your department has become, this is about the attitude of your superiors and the refusal to take responsibility for their appointed jobs.
We, as an organization, raised money and improved the park ourselves, what did we get for it? I was threatened with legal action for arranging the installation of course improvements, then told that if we want to raise money to fix the park, we would have to pay $200 to your department for the privilege . That is not an attitude of cooperation, that is an attitude of greed, laziness, and selfishness. We have organized clean up days and have cleaned up broken glass and trash, as well as utilized our own tools to cut fallen trees and branches for four years. If the Parks department has any real interest in improvement and maintenance of Knollwood Park, Frances Jewell would acknowledge the apathy, would admit that they have neglected the interests of park goers, and work with our organization. If they had worked with us, the park would have new signs, 18 concrete pads, and a more accessible and easier to maintain garbage system over the past four years. Instead, I have to appeal constantly to the city commission, defend myself against the misrepresentation of your superiors, and use guerrilla marketing and free food to entice volunteers.
I understand that you're angry, I hate it when people point out what has gone wrong, but your anger can only mean that I am finally being heard by people that are listening. Frances Jewell herself was compelled to contact the city commission in this matter due to the pleas of park goers finally making it through to people that matter. Our group will be represented this year, those refusing to help will be exposed, and real work to improve the park will continue. I just hope that you can see that this is not about me trying to insult you, I appreciate union labor and voted to protect collective bargaining. This is about your department allowing us to help without threats, and your department spending the simple hour or two each month to do what it is paid to do by the citizens of the City of Kalamazoo. Parks and Recreation is not designed to create revenue, departments all over the country understand that Parks are a point of a city's pride and morale. The attitude that "if you don't like it, tough" is just the kind of attitude that is ruining the sense of pride in community in America.