One of the most overwhelming conclusions reached by the project team was that no public sector entity can provide world-class recreational programming and park facilities without the active and sustained participation of community volunteers.
As part of its review efforts, the project team met with officials from the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks’an operation widely regarded for the high quality of the services it provides. Comparisons between the sizes of the populations served, parkland acreage managed, operating budgets, and staffing levels in the respective jurisdictions did not result in the disparities that the project team initially expected. The indicator where the chasm between the City and County materialized was the level of unpaid volunteer support. In Baltimore County, approximately 50,000 unpaid community volunteers donate over 500,000 hours of time to support local programming. In contrast, the City’s Department reported only 885 registered volunteers in FY99. Additionally, local recreation councils generate over $8.2 million to augment Baltimore County’s budget allocation for recreation and parks activities.
While obvious socioeconomic differences exist between Baltimore City and Baltimore County that limit the usefulness of direct comparisons, the sizeable disparity in the level of volunteer support represents a significant obstacle to overcome in efforts to improve the quality of the Department’s services. The report, therefore, includes a series of recommendations aimed at bolstering the level of community volunteer support leveraged to support the Department’s operations.
Introduction: Department of Recreation and Parks
Effective and Efficient Service Delivery Mechanisms and Models
Enhanced Revenue Generating Capabilities
Responsive Service Metrics and Resource Allocations