The vacancies range from front desk at recreational centers to maintenance in the parks around Denver.
DENVER – As more people rush to Denver’s popular parks just before summer, the Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department believes some will notice differences in the parks.
“Since we planned our budget for this year last year, we didn’t know where we would be with the pandemic,” said Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of Denver’s Parks and Rec Department.
This year, Gilmore is working with smaller staff across the department. Job vacancies range from recreation center front desk to maintenance in the parks around Denver.
Now Gilmore is hoping more people will apply for the open spaces as park usage is expected to be high this summer as COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.
This is what the demand looks like
A tighter budget caused by the pandemic is one of the factors why Denver Parks and Rec haven’t been able to hire as many workers.
“We have hired around 200 on-call or seasonal workers in the past,” said Gilmore. “When the pandemic broke out. We’d hired about a hundred or a hundred people. And that’s when we stopped because the city’s revenue ran dry and we just didn’t have the money.”
Right now, Gilmore says, there are about 100 park workers, so they’re looking for 20 to 30 more jobs.
“So we’ve budgeted roughly enough to hire about 130 seasonal workers for our park division,” Gilmore said.
However, after adding the number of people needed for recreation centers, Gilmore said the number of vacancies was much higher.
“We’re starting to open them again, but we are struggling to find lifeguards, fitness trainers … only people who occupy the reception at the leisure center,” he said. “So at the moment I checked this week that we have 170 vacancies.”
To apply for a position with the division through the City of Denver website, click here.
The impact of fewer manpower
Gilmore said those who work for the parks and recreation department do a lot, whether it is maintaining the parks to taking care of the landscape.
“They work on the irrigation, they empty trash cans, they just take care of the parks. They plow in winter, all of those things,” he said. “As you can see, the grass is pretty green in summer. The grass begins to grow, the flower beds are planted. There’s a lot more going on in the park, a lot more people, a lot more rubbish to pick up. “
He adds that waste consumption in the central part of the city is estimated to have increased by 45%.
Landscaping is also affected, he said.
“We may only be able to mow every five days, we mow every seven days,” Gilmore said.
While overall he hopes more people will apply for jobs in the department, he has a message for the community.
“Please be patient with us if you see a park that is not perfect, or has weeds in one of the flowerbeds, or if a trash can looks full, we’ll make it. But sometimes it just takes us a little longer to.” get some of these things than they normally would, “he said.
Help comes in
Another implication of the lack of the usual number of manpower for the department is the flower beds, which cannot normally be planted in Denver parks.
“What we did is we didn’t plant about 50 percent of our flower beds,” Gilmore said. “It takes a lot of effort to plant flowers in the city and county of Denver. Right now we’ve only planted about half of our flower beds in town to help maintain those flower beds because it takes a lot of effort to plant and maintain those flower beds at the level that Denver citizens and visitors expect. “
At Cheesman Park in Denver, groups of volunteers took care of the rose gardens in the park.
One of the groups is the Cheesman Park Advocacy Group.
“This really brings the community together,” says Cindy Sestrich, one of the group’s coordinators.
She said the group looks after around 24 rose beds and works in coordination with Denver Parks and Recreation. They have been looking after the rose gardens since 2012.
“Every part of it is voluntary. We do our time voluntarily, we deliver voluntarily and we have just delivered … under 200 new rose bushes for this garden because we have had to die a lot in recent years.” She said.
Sestrich owes the ability to look after the garden to various supervisors and the gardener with whom the group works. As well as the Denver Rose Society, who was the group’s educational instructor in caring for and planting roses.
If you would like to volunteer with the group in caring for the rose gardens, email [email protected]
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