Inside Stories

Guest Editorial: Buckner Strikes Again!

Editorial by District 2 Lowell City Councilor Corey Robinson

There is a saying a colleague of mine uses that has stuck with me, “Inspect what you expect.” Meaning, a manager needs to verify (inspect) that the work tasked out is completed to the required standard (expect). This mindset that lends itself to efficient management practices is not occurring in Lowell, especially in the Parks Department.

A bitter few try to make excuses, saying I have “sour grapes.” Yes. I am sour because I know Lowell’s 115 thousand residents deserve better. In my first term, I have advocated for fair and equal treatment across Lowell’s neighborhoods, with how City resources, but especially in the condition and maintenance of our green-space and athletic fields.

As the weather warms and the fields dry out, Lowell’s kids will be hitting the various fields scattered across the city. ALL kids, in every neighborhood, should have access to the best quality conditions when it comes to recreation, sports, and play. We have a responsibility to provide the happiest of memories and experiences for Lowell’s youngest residents.

After decades of playing favorites, I have started fighting for an overhaul for ALL of our baseball and softball fields with funds earmarked for open space. Fields like Clemente have been neglected for way too long. Such fields don’t need an easy “touch-up.” They need substantial renovations.

Within the Parks Division, the scheduled maintenance systems are completely broken. We have a position in the city workforce that is responsible for the following:

Oversees, plans, and schedules park dedications, special park improvement projects, festivals, and city-sponsored special events.

Oversees, manages, contracted services, and coordinates parks and cemetery division deliveries (i.e., vehicles, equipment, supplies, materials as needed).

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following. Other duties may be assigned.

  • Tours areas to assess development possibilities and determine maintenance needs of sidewalks, roads, athletic fields, lawns, and playgrounds.
  • Directs projects involving new construction or repair in the City Parks.
  • Prepares estimates of costs to plan and provide or improve recreation and visitors’ safety.

This City Council, working with the Administration, have green-lighted spending funds to bring ALL fields to a condition Lowell could be proud of. Unfortunately, we have found, not only is there a lack of oversight and management, the determination of maintenance needs is also completely out of sync with reality, the lack of direction of the project, and the prepared estimates to improve these fields have been botched.

I took advantage of the online document storage that the City Administration is beginning to fill and maintain. I reviewed what I could find, related to baseball park improvements. Among the flaws I noticed, there are minimal mentions of replacing sod after corrective actions are taken to rectify “lips” that are prevalent in our fields. The scope of work that was put out for contractors to bid on didn’t come close to addressing the majority of the issues we have with our fields. I’m told that volunteers with the athletic leagues are overseeing this $100,000 plus project and guiding the contractor in what needs to be done to make improvements. It is the responsibility of City staff to oversee and inspect the work and products of paid vendors.

If the ball gets by us on a $140,000 upgrade to fields, what do we do with the balance of $9M on the horizon? We cannot continue to operate in this manner. It appears that there aren’t many expectations set and with this project, NOTHING is being inspected.

3 responses to “Guest Editorial: Buckner Strikes Again!”

  1. Jocelyn Choate says:

    This is what has to be done Thank you for your support

  2. […] This past week, Councilor Robinson penned an editorial, again criticizing management at the department. […]

  3. […] This past week, Councilor Robinson penned an editorial, again criticizing management at the department. […]

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