18 April 2013

Transfer of Manager Pending at Levi Carter Park

The current park manager at Levi Carter Park is to soon be transferred to another park facility managed by Parks Recreation and Public Property division of the City of Omaha.

This would be a mistake as Randy Garlipp is an obvious asset to this park along Carter Lake. He arrived from N.P. Dodge Park and it was immediately apparent that he had the drive, ethic and interest in improving the park settings.

During my more than 130 visits to the lake and park, Randy has always been cordial, and each time we've taken a minute or two to visit, it made the day more enjoyable.

Levi Carter Park is not an easy park to maintain. Consider:

  • illegal taking of grills by perpetrators focused upon stealing metal and selling it as scrap;
  • graffiti on park facilities which indicate an association with "EO" which might be something like an East Omaha gang;
  • vehicles driving wherever they want, across areas where they is not supposed by be any vehicular traffic, as well as some people that seem to think they can park wherever they want; and
  • litter, trash and other debris are a constant nuisance.

There is an obvious need for more park care, rather than less.

Randy Garlipp was on the scene during the park cleanup on Saturday, April 13th. While taking care of regular chores, he also helped with removal of trash gathered by volunteers. He personally expressed his appreciation for the effort, and he comment was worthy of a further quote. And then he stopped again, northward along the street, to give the same appreciation to some of the last people still working to pick up litter late in the morning.

There are other reasons that there should be no change at Levi Carter Park. Obviously, the primary point here is that: "Don't mess with success." Mr. Garlipp has been successful in maintaining the essential values of Levi Carter Park. Why is it that because a park manager does a great job, they get transferred elsewhere?

Additional reasons against this change are also obvious. Randy Garlipp has been attentive to birds about the lake. In the past two springs, he did not have to be told to clean out the houses for the Purple Martins, but had it done before the birds arrived. This year, there were two houses, and though it seemed necessary to personally do the work, my perspective was mistaken because Randy had already taken care of providing a welcoming place for the martins.

Because of moments of discussion, Randy has realized the various sorts of birds about the lake, and it is something he has said that he appreciates. Many birds appreciated the food he provided during the past winter season at feeders on the south side of his residence.

Levi Carter Park is in dire need of more attention, not less. There have been millions of dollars spent upon the lake improvement project in the past couple of years. And portions of the park are still closed because of this.

Most importantly, the multi-million dollar investment, as funded by multiple sources, needs to continue, and deal with some other issues obvious about the lake. They include:

  • removal of invasive species such as phragmites along the shores of Levi Carter Park, as well as unwanted cedar trees on upland portions of the park, especially at its west side;
  • establishing ample turf upon ground that was disturbed by the so-called lake improvement project;
  • preventing vehicle encroachment upon lake-side spots where people seemingly cannot walk to the lake to fish, but instead drive wherever they want, and which seems to be a law enforcement action by OPD;
  • determining specifics that determine any operation of the water pump on the north side of the lake, and which is within the City of Omaha park;
  • replacing defective concrete at the piers on the east side of the lake; and
  • continuing the community involvement and work well done by the current park manager.

However the decision was done associated with selecting the best manager for this park, there is no transparency, as it seems to be some administrative choice. There seems to have been no opportunity for the people of Omaha to comment on this expectant change!

This decision seems to be another something done by Parks officials that have been regularly oblivious to comments by citizens of the city they seem to tepidily represent at times.

It does not make sense to transfer someone such as Randy Garlipp, who is well aware of the park and its particulars, to someplace else, and bring in a part-timer. What a mistake it would be to create less when the current situation creates more of the place!

Once Mr. Garlipp is transferred, there will only be a "part-time" employee at Levi Carter Park. It is not known if this would be someone working part-time every week, or a set number of hours during the year to be classified as a part-time employee?

Levi Carter Park deserves and requires a fulltime "caretaker" but City of Omaha officials are doing just the opposite! There are many issues in the park environs, and with someone at the scene for fewer hours, things will not be suitably taken of, which will continue an ongoing reduction in what is needed to actually improve the park, which was originally donated by the Levi Carter family, decades in the past.

More needs to be done at this park -- larger than 500 acres -- that is heavily used when entirely open. A fulltime manager is essential for success and Randy Garlipp is the proper person for the job!