After their first summer of maintaining the parks and swimming pools in Spokane Valley, Senske Lawn and Tree Care and the YMCA have earned good marks from the city.
“Both contracts were sort of unknowns for us,” said parks director Mike Jackson. “They’ve both worked out very well.”
After Spokane Valley incorporated, Spokane County’s Parks and Recreation Department maintained the city’s parks and pools on a contract basis. To try to save money, the City Council opened up bidding for the maintenance contracts to nongovernmental agencies last year.
Of three bidders, Tri-Cities-based Senske offered to maintain the parks for the least amount – $585,000 per year. Spokane County bid $667,000.
The county made it clear it was not interested in maintaining the pools without the parks contract. The city granted the Spokane Valley YMCA that responsibility after it estimated it could do the work for about $267,000 – roughly $8,000 less than estimates by the county.
For Valley families strolling through a park or taking the kids to a pool, the new contracts haven’t changed anything dramatically.
“They’ve always been well-maintained,” said Christie Koziol as her four children enjoyed a quiet morning in Edgecliff Park.
A playground regular, Koziol said she’s happy with the park’s condition and the work she’s seen by Senske employees.
“I always see them picking up trash,” she said. “The trash cans are always empty.”
The city has received a handful of complaints about conditions in the parks over the summer, but Jackson said Senske was quick to react to residents’ concerns.
“Overall, the vast majority of response from the public has been very positive,” he said.
Both contracts are for one year, but the Parks Department can renew them each year for up to four years.
“Hopefully, they are in here for the long haul,” Jackson said.
Managers at Senske and the YMCA said they will ask to continue the work next year.
“It went great,” said Bob Landaker, Senske’s branch manager.
He said the company hired six additional people and put an employee in charge of managing the park work.
In addition to weekly mowing and daily litter pickup, Landaker said, the company also restriped the parking lots at Valley parks and painted the corral at Valley Mission Park. Workers also fixed a water pump there that had been inoperable for 12 years, he said.
The pool season was slightly longer than last year, and Jackson said he was impressed by the quality of the equipment maintenance done by the YMCA’s staff.
“From our perspective, it went really well,” said Steve Jurich, the YMCA’s director.
Final numbers aren’t in, but the total cost to the city could be less than originally thought, he said.
Over the summer, Jackson said, he heard a few complaints about confusion over swim times and minor customer-service issues at the pools, but overall, he said, the YMCA did a good job.
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