By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Anger over unmowed parks is growing like weeds.
Residents voiced concerns Tuesday about the city’s policy to let grass in some low-traffic areas of city parks grow wild. The cost-saving measure was a trade off, wherein the maintenance company hired to cut city lots, B and C Property Maintenance, would mow all the city’s baseball diamonds, a task usually handled by seasonal Parks and Recreation employees, in exchange for leaving some city property untouched, City Administrator David Tamsen said.
Unmowed areas include a stretch in the rear of Cunningham Park, Riley Park, and the area beyond the tennis courts as well as near the Ecorse Road viaduct in Community Park.
This year, the budget will not allow for seasonal parks and recreation employees for grass cutting, so the arrangement frees the one full-time employee to handle trash disposal in the parks, Tamsen said.
But the tall grass creates problems for some residents. Allen Park Public Schools Community Service Coordinator Gail Brickey said the tall grass in Riley Park will disrupt a school-run summer camp that normally uses it.
“I don’t know what to do with my 80 summer kids,” Brickey said. “Tell me where I can take them and put them.”
Tamsen said that the school district may cut the grass if it wishes to use the park, but it is not in the city’s budget to do so, as the city runs no programs there.
Mike Mullins, a board member of the Allen Park Athletic Club, said APAC will use some of its concession money to improve the parks. It already has added some gravel to muddy areas near ball diamonds.
“We are Allen Park,” he said. “Park is in our name. We should respect our parks and make them look presentable.”
Some residents have taken matters into their own hands, digging out lawnmowers to mow some of the tot lots and smaller parks in their neighborhoods, which has been a mixed blessing, Tamsen said.
“They’ve done a good job,” Tamsen said of the volunteers. “The unfortunate thing is that it’s made it hard to evaluate the service our contractor has provided us.”
B and C originally was scheduled to complete three cuts of each park by now, but the rainy weather caused delays. Some parks have received one cut and some have received two, Tamsen said, but some may have received no cuts by B and C because residents mowed them.
City council members approved paying the company for two weeks worth of mowing and plans to evaluate the company’s progress at the next council meeting. They also brought up other strategies, including researching the use of an organization that would provide mentally handicapped workers to assist with park maintenance at no cost to the city.
One resident had another idea.
“I found out the city has a new policy for the parks,” Jack Selix said. “Want to play in the park? Bring your own lawn mower.”