A comprehensive assessment of the city’s 41 parks and recreation facilities identified $5.9 million in unfunded capital needs alone over the next five years, which city officials said is needed to pay for new playground equipment, bathroom and picnic area renovations, and other repairs.
This year, city officials have allocated roughly $2 million for capital projects, which include restroom renovations at Mountain View and Ralph Foy parks, along with the city’s contribution to infrastructure improvements at Johnny Carson Park.
An additional $350,000 has been set aside this year to cover ongoing maintenance needs at city facilities, such as irrigation improvements, patching holes in fences, resurfacing courts and graffiti removal, officials said.
“We’re going to have to work hard at prioritizing all of those needs and using those dollars wisely,” said Judie Wilke, director of park, recreation and community services. “Because of this assessment, we’re going to be in a much better position now to really articulate our needs.”
Next fiscal year, the department plans to request $1.7 million from the Burbank City Council to fund capital projects, including $800,000 in improvements to the Starlight Bowl.
Other projects city officials hope to fund next year include improvements to picnic areas and drinking fountains at city parks, along with new playground equipment and shade structures at Earthwalk and Vickroy parks.
Picnic area improvements, Wilke said, will allow the department to enhance its revenue by making the areas more appealing and available for rental throughout the year.
However, the five-year projection does not include all of the maintenance and capital needs at city parks, such as the wooden steps and railing leading up to the tennis courts at Brace Canyon Park, which Wilke described as “falling apart.”
That repair will be expensive, she acknowledged. “At some point, we need to bite the bullet and just replace it, or cut that access off totally,” Wilke said.
Also, lighting at many recreation facilities, most noticeably the lighting system at the tennis courts at Mountain View Park, is outdated, Wilke added.
“Not only do we need to replace it, we need to replace it with high-efficiency lighting as well, which will help us in the long run with utility bills,” she said.
The $5.9 million also does not include large improvement projects needed at Olive and Verdugo recreation centers, according to a city report.
In the coming months, members of the Park, Recreation and Community Services Board plan to tour all of the facilities to prioritize capital needs.