MANATEE COUNTY – This week, Manatee County announced a new Parks and Natural Resources Department, which will combine the outdoor, athletic and land preservation services previously offered under separate departments.
The county says the new department is geared at cross-promoting some of the county’s most popular public amenities: a Parks and Recreation Department that offers green space and athletic opportunities to hundreds of local families and a Natural Resources Department which maintains nearly 30,000 acres of the region’s most popular conservation lands.
Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said the transition comes at a time when many county parks are passive in nature, much like Manatee’s conservation lands. Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee’s Natural Resources Director since 2005, will head up the new Parks and Natural Resources Department. All programming, athletic leagues and recreational opportunities will remain intact under the new department.
“Under Charlie’s leadership, we will accomplish a truly global view of the recreational amenities needed to serve our growing community at a critical time as we implement the How Will We Grow plan,” Hunsicker said. “What’s more, Natural Resources may put to greater use its exceptional volunteer network which benefits from thousands of hours of donated time to the county each year.”
The county says it hopes to realize significant improvement in efficiencies by bringing together two departments, which formerly shared responsibilities for several areas including beaches, boat ramps and other outdoor recreational opportunities.
Manatee County Property Management Department, led by director Charlie Bishop, will take over maintenance responsibilities for all parks. From the time Bishop became director in 2009 Manatee County has achieved a countywide savings of more than $1.3 million in annual energy costs.
“Parks maintenance fits naturally within our Property Management Department which has transformed the way think about energy consumption and the way we maintain county buildings and properties,” Hunzeker said. “Property Management will have complete accountability for the maintenance and upkeep of not only the indoors operations, but also the outside grounds keeping for an even greater number of our public's assets.”
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