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Parks may be parked in planning

Bill Oakes has some important mulling to do.

The public works director for Island County is investigating a proposal to place the county’s five-employee parks department within his department. He plans to make a presentation about his findings at a recent county commissioners’ staff session.

“The two departments have close ties,” he said. “We do a lot of work already for parks, including all the major construction.”

The parks department in currently a part of the planning department, but it has been without a parks superintendent for more than a year. Jeff Tate oversaw the department since then, but his last day as planning director was Monday. Health Department Director Keith Higman will be the interim director of planning for at least six months.

With all the changes in the planning department, the county commissioners asked Higman to consider taking on the parks department at a meeting last week.

Oakes said he wants to find a permanent home for the nomadic department, which was part of the general services administration a couple years ago. He also feels it needs a stable funding source.

“As long as they are competing for general finding sources, they will suffer,” he said to the commissioners.

“They are always the last priority,” Commissioner John Dean agreed.

“Philosophically, I always thought that parks should be a stand-alone department, but that won’t happen for five to 10 years,” he said.

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