City parks news: Problems, plans and upgrades

April 10, 2011

BY PAULA MINAERT — The master plan for Hyattsville’s parks, which was initiated last year, is now able to move forward, after a nearly six-month delay.

According to Mayor Bill Gardiner, the contractor hired by the city to develop the plan, Tony Mulkey, did not deliver the plan on schedule. Mulkey is Hyattsville’s previous director of Recreation and the Arts, who left Hyattsville to take a position in Florida.

“Based on the contract, we were anticipating getting the plan in October,” Gardiner said. “Tony didn’t deliver, and still hasn’t delivered the complete plan. It’s been a big disappointment.”

The city received the plan in March.

Gregory Rose, City Administrator, said that the city did receive a significant amount of work from the contractor.

Last year, Mulkey organized and led two sets of public meetings and developed a survey. The purpose was to gather feedback about city residents’ perceptions of the park and recreation facilities and programs, and their ideas for future development. Mulkey also provided information about how Hyattsville compared with similar cities

“It was an enormous amount of data,” said Sandel, the city’s Communications Manager.

Hyattsville had contracted to pay Mulkey $21,975, and he was actually paid $19,338. According to Steve Yeskulsky, the current Director of Recreation and the Arts, the city is taking the plan to another consultant for review, which he estimates will cost about $4000.

“What we got [from Mulkey] was a draft. A plan of this magnitude and scope, it’s good to have a second opinion, to look at the plan and validate it.”

Yeskelsky also said that he doesn’t think the review by this second consultant will take more than a month or two to complete.

This final draft, after staff has looked at it, will go to the city council for approval. After that, funding sources for the proposed improvements will be identified.

Yeskulsky said, “I came in October and it was due in October. I want it done four months ago, but there are things you have to do to get things done and done right. This is a plan driving the department for the next five years and beyond. It’s all for the betterment of the community.”

King Park on Gallatin Street

In other parks news, Robert J. Memorial King Park reopened for public use Saturday, April 2, nearly three weeks after an unknown person illegally dumped a large amount of used motor oil there. The projected cost for repair and cleanup is about $12,000.

That work was a two-step process. The first was remediation, or cleanup. Hyattsville’s Public Works Director Patrick Ryan said that cleanup involved removing the pavers and other material contaminated by the oil and the excess oil around the pavers. All that had to be taken to a special place in the landfill for disposal.

“It cost about $8100,” Ryan said. “We don’t know the exact amount of oil dumped, but it seems to be at least 20 gallons. The cleanup took two days and was very labor intensive.”

The second step was repair, handled by the Department of Recreation and the Arts, and involved replacing the pavers that were removed and filling in sand and dirt around them, according to Sandel.

“It was a simple project, but the work had to be done when it was dry,” she said. “The weather was not our friend in this.”

The city used NZI, a contracting firm. Sandel said the firm finished the repairs on Saturday morning. They notified the city, and an employee was available right then to take down the yellow caution tape.

McClanahan Park

The city has installed a camera and a call box, with a blue light, at this mini-park located near the West Hyattsville Metro station. The park was the site of two assaults recently. The city acted in response to a general sense that the park would benefit from security features.