A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why park’s lawn is tan: A little story

Written September 1st, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Like many lawns all over Albany, Takena Park has gone mostly tan this summer. Is that a story? Not really, but maybe a little one.

As we heard the other day in connection with public restrooms, the city parks department is laboring under cutbacks. I know from listening to budget meetings years ago that the city parks have to pay for the city water they use for irrigating lawns.

I wondered whether the brownish lawn at Takena had anything to do with trying to save money?

Apparently not, or only a little, I gathered from the response I got from Rick Barnett, the parks facilities and maintenance manager.

“Takena Park not being irrigated,” he wrote, “is related  to an ancient irrigation system that is no longer usable.”

But money plays a role, apparently. “With finances as projected,” he added, “you will likely see less watering throughout the system next year.”

I combed the published city budget for what it costs the parks to keep lawns green each year in the city’s 550 acres of developed park land. But that detail isn’t there. Presumably it’s part of the $1.2 million yearly budget for materials and services in the park maintenance section.

Let’s agree that brown lawns in September (or on Aug. 30, as in the photo above) are no big deal around here. After all, they all turn green again after the first two weeks of rain. (hh)

On Sept. 2 Rick Barnett provided additional background: “We have water rights at Timber Linn and Waverly lakes so those parks are mostly just the cost to pump water. We budgeted $135,000 for water this year along with another $5,000 for stormwater management.  

“Before the main watering and mowing season we recognized we needed to save money anywhere we could.  Since less watering means less mowing, our park maintenance workers have been working to be very precise on our watering. We are trending substantially under the budgeted number this watering season.”

5 responses to “Why park’s lawn is tan: A little story”

  1. Anon says:

    Shortsighted! It must cost the city very little to water parks. They own the water system and have the water rights. It costs them virtually nothing to pull the water from the santiam.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I’m transitioning to progressive politics and have been told that parks are an essential service provided to residents for the greater good. Parks serve a collective purpose.

    If the greater good is at stake, isn’t it necessary to keep parks adequately watered in the summer to ensure the land remains healthy and available for all to use?

    Nobody, except Hasso evidently, enjoys seeing or using 550 acres of tan, dried up lawn.

    Risking communal shared happiness is not an option. Spare no expense. Water the parks to ensure our common future.

  3. Don says:

    Good time to pant some to Buckhorn Plantain.

  4. Pat Quinn says:

    I, personally, let my lawn turn brown simply because I will not pay the amount of money the city wants for “it’s” water to keep it green. I guess you could call it a matter of budget priorities. Hmmmmm, budget priorities, what a concept. just my opinion pat

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    a couple years ago, I irrigated through the summer, hoping to have a green lawn going into the Fall/Winter. The idea being to get it “healthier” than it had been.
    We ended up having a dry Fall.
    Since my November water bill includes the last 3 weeks of October, ANY water usage during that period would be used to compute sewer usage for the next year.
    Sewer usage is averaged from the Nov-Feb bills for those that don’t know.
    I simply wasn’t going to pay another 3-4 “sewer units” per month vs 1 per month for the next year in order to irrigate until the rains came.
    No way will I waste that water again.
    A December to March average MUCH better reflects irrigation usage.
    I guess NOT using water allows the city to run more through the “Electric Plant” so they don’t look quite as idiotic with that White Elephant.


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