Elk Grove Parks Suffer Under Funding Setbacks

ELK GROVE -- Signs have been posted at nearly 20 public parks in eastern and central Elk Grove warning that maintenance has been curtailed because of funding shortfalls.

The area’s parks are actually operated by the Consumnes Community Services District, which operates 98 parks in 16 assessment zones. It turns out that two of those zones have much lower property assessments than surrounding neighborhoods.

They haven’t been raised since a 1995 state ballot initiative required a vote of property owners before service district fees could be raised.

With maintenance and water costs rising, grass in the 20 parks in question is slowly turning brown. Maintenance on basketball courts, tennis courts and playgrounds have been suspended.

"It's frustrating. We’re in the business of making parks look green and inviting, and enhancing neighborhoods," said Parks Superintendent Steve Sims.

Residents in one of the zones voted down a fee increase in 2009 but resident Jill Jones said there wasn’t sufficient outreach and public discussion.

Jones is spearheading an effort to raise fees to improve nearby Macdonald Park. But she fears that a proposed district requirement of getting 75 percent of area property owners to agree to begin the ballot process is unreasonable because it only takes a 50 percent vote to approve a fee increase.

"That’s a deal-breaker. That’s a showstopper," Jones said.

Still, she says residents have to be educated on the value of having a well-maintained park for families and as a neighborhood gathering place.

The Cosumnes CSD has online information on how and why maintenance has been reduced in Benefit Zone 3 and 6 and what neighbors can do about raising fees to support local parks. It can be found by clicking here.