Parks commission releases final report

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The Blue Ribbon Commission examining the future of parks and recreation funding and operations in Clark County has released its final report and recommendations to local elected officials and county residents.

The report provides context regarding the need for the commission, details the process used to engage stakeholders and the public, and includes results of a scientific telephone poll, as well as advantages and disadvantages of each of the seven recommendations. The report is available at http://www.cityofvancouver.us/blueribbon.

“These are trying times and existing funding is no longer adequate to maintain the services and facilities that are vital to our community,” Chairman Roy Heikkala said in a letter to local elected officials accompanying the report. “The Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations represent a good start. They provide direction for future efforts towards finding sustainable funding and shifted to more business-oriented practices. More work by each jurisdiction is needed to follow up on this collaborative effort.”

Since the Blue Ribbon Commission’s work concluded earlier this year, several notable efforts have been initiated, completed or are now under way. They include:

• A community discussion with David Fisher, a nationally known regional parks and greenways expert, about developing a regional approach to parks, greenways and trails that solidifies a “common cause,” while embracing health, wellness, mobility and economic vitality.

• Expansion of the park volunteer programs in Vancouver and Clark County and implementation of new Web-based tools to facilitate volunteerism.

• Exploration of specific opportunities for greater collaboration in delivering parks and recreation services, to be done with the county administrator and participating city managers and city administrators.

• Exploration of alternative financing mechanisms specifically available to Vancouver and Clark County.

• Preliminary investigation, with the Washington Recreation and Park Association, of greater fiscal flexibility for metropolitan parks districts, including the Greater Clark Parks District