Clark County park districts could combine

NTPRD, Clark County Parks District in talks of combining

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District and Clark County Parks District are exploring the possibility of combining into one parks system.

NTPRD Executive Director Leann Castillo said the districts have gotten the ‘OK’ from both Springfield City Commissioners and Clark County Commissioners to explore options of how to best make the merger happen.

“We only want to do this once and we want to make sure we do it right so their input will guide us as we move forward,” Castillo said. “This is still in the exploration phase, but we do want the community to know we’re working towards a positive outcome for all of the residents of Clark County.”

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Castillo said combining the districts would lead to a lot of benefits for residents including having access to parks services all under one roof — no matter where someone lives in the county.

The two agencies provide over 400 programs and special events every year, including recreation programs, outdoor education, historical re-enactment and athletics for all age ranges.

If the two were to combine into one system, the districts say they would be able to identify any gaps in programming and they’d also like to increase historical programming and displays to bring people back more consistently.

Clark County Parks District Executive Director Carol Kennard said right now, people call either district not knowing who their question should be directed to.

“The main benefit is to reduce confusion about who provides what in terms of parks and recreation in the county,” she said.

NTPRD currently oversees three bike trails and manages a total of close to 1,000 acres. The Clark County Parks District manages two bike trails and close to 850 acres in total.

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The primary source of funding for both of the agencies comes from a parks, trails and green space levy that was passed by Clark County voters in 2015. Each district also gets funding from other sources, including program fees, donations and grants.

Castillo said in order for the combined parks idea to work, the system would need continued funding from all of these sources.

According to the district, staffing levels would also be similar to what’s currently in place at both agencies. Right now, the two agencies employ 20 full-time employees, 11 part-time, between four and seven interns and over 80 seasonal employees.

If the the parks districts were to combine, the system could take on as many of 27 full-time employees and the same number of other employees.

Kennard said the districts haven’t given themselves a hard and fast timeline on the possible merger, but after they finish gathering the needed information officials will start developing the nuts and bolts.

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