Recreation in county needs improvement |

Recreation in county needs improvement

Residents of Nevada County have a great number of organized recreational opportunities available to them – everything from kids’ sports to adults’ dances – but the way recreation programs currently are organized demands tremendous amounts of volunteer energy.

Meanwhile, operation of parks in the county – the other side of the phrase “park and recreation programs” – continues to burden some taxpayers with more than their fair share of the expense.

Recommendations from the recreation working group of the Natural Heritage 2020 project call for the county government to take a much more active role in parks and recreation. If the residents of the county are ready to pay a greater tab for recreation and parks services – a notion supported by a recent survey – then it only makes sense for the county government to take on that job.

Recreation programs currently are provided by a host of nonprofit organizations. Typically, each one handles a specific program – children’s soccer, for instance – and each relies on cadre of dedicated volunteers to handle everything from coaching to keeping the books. Clearly, we can do things far more efficiently if some of the administrative work for each of these programs is consolidated.

Because recreation programs draw participants from throughout the county, it makes sense for the consolidated recreation effort to be a function of the county government rather than an individual city or special district.

Parks, too, serve all the residents of the county. But folks who live outside either of the two cities or outside of one of the handful of park districts in western Nevada County don’t pay for the upkeep of parks. Again, a service used by all the residents of the county should be provided by the county government.

A survey commissioned by the county government last year found two-thirds of Nevada County residents would pay as much as $20 a year for improved parks and recreation services.

The current system works, although it doesn’t make the most efficient use of volunteers’ time or taxpayers’ dollars. If we’re ready to grow into the next phase of parks and recreation programs, then the Board of Supervisors should support this recommendation for greater county involvement.

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