by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--"It's a routine-type situation. Inspections are made by supervisors on every site, daily. It's something to keep up with. It is very difficult."
Those are the words of Steve Patton, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Odessa. The city has 36 parks and 40 full-time employees to keep them all in shape, all year round.
"We are on a scheduled routine inspection which is a documented type of inspection, that is in compliance with the National Safety Standards that we have to keep up with. Our guys are very good about keeping up with all the inspections and trying to keep everything in a working order and as safe as possible," Patton said.
The city has funneled more than $28 million worth of improvements into it's parks in the past 15 years. With new improvements come new codes and laws. Patton explains, "It's very costly to build a park these days and to be in compliance, to make it safe and to comply with all the National Playground Safety Standards that we have to."
Some parks require more maintainence than others because of specialized equipment, much of which is still under warranty.
For you Mr. Fix-it's out there, when you visit the parks this summer and you see a nut or bolt that's not quite tight enough, park officials are asking that you leave your pliers and wrenches in your toolbox and leave the repair work to them, "I would appreciate it if they would call the office and we'll get that on a work order system and get somebody out here to fix it. That's very important."
But park safety isn't just on the playgrounds. It applies to the pools too. According to Patton, "We will give out life vests for anyone that feels their child or themselves are not good swimmers. We have life vests available there at the swimming pool if they'll simply ask for them."
With the nearest vacation spot 5-6 hours away, Patton says it's important to keep what we've got at home in working order, "We don't have any lakes or any opportunity for recreation in our nearby areas, so we have to have something for people to do here."