By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen’s city parks and recreation staff are looking for local groups to participate in the department’s new adopt-a-park program.
All or portions of the city’s 30 parks will be available for adoption, said Brett Williams, Killeen’s director of parks and recreation, who added that weekend use at the parks is causing cleanup crews to work longer hours.
“Usage is always an issue. Mondays are hectic with cleanups,” he said, noting weekends are usually the time when residents schedule birthday parties and other celebrations. “The usage got so high, we’re now sending crews out on Saturdays and Sundays.”
The program will not replace parks and recreation staff in keeping the parks clean, but will supplement current efforts.
While litter is a concern, Williams said he hopes the adopt-a-park program also will have the effect of bringing more residents to see the recreational opportunities city parks offer.
“We want our parks bursting at the seams,” he said. “We want kids and parents on our playgrounds.”
In addition to litter pickup, program participants also can rake playgrounds, pull weeds, sweep trails and pathways, and plant new bushes and trees under the supervision of park staff.
The program entered its planning stages last summer and soon the city will begin seeking volunteers, such as church groups, civic organizations and units at Fort Hood.
“We don’t have any groups who have adopted a park yet,” said Sherry Wolfe, Killeen’s recreation superintendent. “All our parks are available for adoption, either in their entirety or in sections.”
However, Wolfe and Williams said a Fort Hood unit has taken a special interest in the program, since it uses a Killeen park for training.
“(The unit) said they do their physical training and they want to give back to the facility,” said Williams, who added that he hopes more units on post get involved because of the number of people they can bring to the cleanups.
“That could result in 30 to 100 participants out doing community service,” he said.
Interested groups will commit to cleaning up parks four times a year for two years at their discretion. However, the city encourages groups to have a cleanup every April 14, during a statewide litter pickup day, as well as a pickup sometime in July, which is national parks and recreation month.
In return, the city will provide a sign advertising the group’s adoption of the park, along with cleaning materials.
“There’s really not much cost to us, which is why it’s a great program for the entire community,” said Wolfe.
Emilio Fenderson, a graffiti specialist with the parks and recreation department who also assists on cleanup, said the program will help make parks safer and family friendly, while saving taxpayers’ money.
“(Adopt-a-park) helps with trash pickup and keeping everything looking really good. It helps us with not having to ask for overtime, saving the city money,” he said.
“A clean environment is a safe environment and it makes the workload lighter.”
For more information about the adopt-a-park program, call (254) 501-8889.