County hires consultant to improve parks
Bradford County has hired a consultant to advise the county on developing, running, and promoting its county parks.
The county has been awarded a $10,000 Peer-to-Peer state grant to pay the consultant, Samantha Holbert of Stroudsburg, Pa., chief County Clark Michelle Shedden said. In addition, the county will be contributing $1,000 toward her salary, Shedden said.
Holbert said she is helping to fill a void, because the county does not have any professional staff to manage its county parks. The county only has a maintenance director for the parks, she said.
Holbert said she will work with the Bradford County Parks Committee on prioritizing which additional recommendations to implement from the county's 2010 master plan for its county parks. The master plan, which was completed in 2010, recommended $16 million in improvements for the county parks.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Bradford County Commissioners to decide which parts of the plan to implement, and when they would be implemented.
Holbert said she will also be able to advise the county on where to apply for grants to improve the parks.
Under Act 13, revenue that the county receives from the impact fee on natural gas drilling can be used to pay for park and recreation improvements in the county parks, Holbert said. It will be up to the Bradford County Commissioners to determine whether impact fee revenue is used in the parks, she said.
At this time, the commissioners have not committed any impact fee revenue for the parks, she said.
"We've talked about dedicating some royalty money (from the county's gas lease)" to the parks, Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko said. "We've got other money" to pay for parks improvements, including a separate state grant, he said.
One of the questions that Holbert will be helping the county to evaluate is whether there is a need to hire a permanent part- or full-time staff person to manage the parks, she said.
The staff person could bring revenue into the county and the parks by marketing the parks and applying for grants to improve them, she said. The staff person could also work to increase the programs taking place in the county parks, she said.
While Holbert's formal contract with the county has only been in place since Thursday, she has already begun her project in Bradford County by interviewing members of the Parks Committee and community officials.
Holbert said her contract with the county allows her to work up to two years for the county.
On Thursday, the Bradford County commissioners approved the contract with Holbert.
Holbert has worked for years as a parks consultant and advisor, said Tony Liguori, a member of the Parks Committee.
Holbert is a member of the board of directors of the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Stroudsburg.
She holds a B.S. in public administration from Scranton University and a B.S. in recreation and leisure services management from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.