LODI -- The city of Lodi is tackling a problem that plagues virtually every community in the region -- trying to keep its public parks clean and safe.
Parks often suffer when city finances are funneled to services like police and fire services and road maintenance.
"We have the same amount of people on staff as we did 51 years ago," said Jeff Hood, Director of the Lodi Parks and Recreation Department.
That's why his department is creating what it calls the Lodi Parks People program in which residents would volunteer to help clear parks of trash. The city will equip them with a basic cleanup kit including a bucket, mechanical grabbers, plastic gloves and trash bags.
Like many cities, Lodi has been overwhelmed by clean-up problems caused by homeless campers at some parks. Vandalism and dangerous trash like hypodermic needles caused Lodi to close the bathrooms at Lawrence Park and remove park benches and barbecues.
But it also takes pride in parks that have been adopted by organizations like the Lions Club, which recently built a new toddlers play area at Emerson Park and funds other improvements.
Nearby resident Kathy Bishop, who already picks up trash in her neighborhood on her own, thinks the volunteer idea is a good one.
"I believe we should take ownership of our neighborhoods," said Bishop.
Hood says the Lodi Parks People program will give residents who are not a part of a service group or club to take ownership of their neighborhood park.
Interested residents can contact the Lodi Parks and Rec Department coordinator by calling 209-333-6742 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.