Local Parks: Dandelions Grow In The Wake Of Budget Cuts

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The dandelions have just about taken over near the ball parks at the east end of Reno's Idlewild Park.

This patch of what was once grassy turf is an extreme example, but it does show what happens, when basic care is deferred and to some degree all of our local parks tell the same story.

"We would love to have healthy turf," says Parks Manager Jeff Mann," but we don't have a fertilizer program or an overall turf maintenance program other than mowing.":

It's the same in Sparks and the county. Budget cuts mean once a week mowing, picking up trash, making sure the playground equipment is safe and the rest rooms open. That's it.

Things would be even worse if it were not for a number of volunteers.

Various groups have adopted some of our local parks, but nowhere is that help more evident than at Newlands Park, just up the hill from Idlewild.

This, Mann says, is the system's best maintained park. The reason is John Pfister.

A couple of years ago, as the budget cuts lengthened he saw the parks start to deteriorate.

"We volunteered to take over a park and the park director gave me this one and we've been hard at work ever since," he says.

Pfister owns JP and Son Landscaping and brings a work force and knowledge to his volunteer work. There was a lot to be done.

"It was almost solid dandelions and the weeds were taking over and the shrubs were dying and the city of Reno didn't have the resources to do what was needed."

But he did. So, alone among the city's 87 parks, Newlands is getting the kind of care Mann would like to be giving all the rest. That means the turf is getting aerated, thatched and fertilized. The shrubs pruned. The planting beds cleaned of leaves and debris.

And it's far from over. Taggers have hit the park recently. Spring has brought a crop of dandelions. The water has just been turned on and the sprinklers need adjusting.

It takes time and resources from his business, but he can look on the results with some satisfaction.

"You hear a lot of people say no good deed goes unpunished, but in this case it's been rewarding. It's a pleasure to do something good and just help out."