City workers at Las Animas Park

Gilroy Parks and Recreation staff receive extensive training in ball field preparation and repair at Las Animas Veterans Park on March 25. Photo: Bill Headley

I walk around Las Animas Park twice every day. On the morning of March 25, I noticed at the baseball field there were 11 city workers working most of the day where the adult softball league plays. I walked once again in the afternoon and the same amount of people were still there but were just standing around and watching one guy who was truly working. Is it necessary for 11 city workers to work practically all day on one field? I would like to know if our taxpayer money is going toward these 11 workers standing around all day supposedly working on the same baseball field. Does the softball league make that much revenue in order to reimburse for these city workers wasting a whole day fixing this field? I certainly hope it was not my taxpayer money being wasted. If it was my taxpayer money, I am sure the taxpayers of Gilroy would like to be informed how much this cost. I would appreciate you looking into this matter as soon as possible. 
Red Phone:
Red Phone went straight to the man in charge of park and landscape maintenance, good caller. “What you saw,” according to Gilroy Parks and Recreation landscape supervisor, Bill Headley, “was a hands-on training session with staff members being trained on ball field preparation and repair work to the ball field which had drainage issues.”

Headley said, “This was a rare opportunity before the softball season started to both train personnel and fix the drainage problems at this park at the same time. Staff from seven city parks and landscape maintenance districts was involved.”

According to Headley, the training included infield grading using surveyed data, stakes and string, a grading tractor and hand tools, so that the staff could perform the same site work elsewhere with little supervision.

The trainer, a volunteer from the park staff, surveyed the infield for grading points and marked the aerial survey handout showing site grade elevations prior to training day. On training day, trainees were taught how to use the aerial survey map to set survey stakes and string to indicate low drainage grades.

Asked if the workers were on break, Headley said, “Yes, they had a lunch break during training.” City workers get three breaks, a morning, a lunch, and an afternoon break. Their normal working hours are from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”

Asked if a supervisor or foreman was present at the work site, Headley said, “Yes, me and the staff grading trainer.”

Headley described that day for these workers. Training started after their morning core tasks, such as opening park gates and restrooms, reservation work and cleaning up graffiti. After the lunch break, training restarted after the infield was nail-dragged to breakup the hard soil and watered down to provide a good surface for grading and training. After the afternoon break, half of the park staff was released to check district park facilities such as restrooms before returning to the city yard. The remaining staff stayed till 2:30 to finish grading the infield.

Headley described other examples of onsite field training, such as addressing a fallen tree in a park for chainsaw operation and safety training. Another example would be riding mower training on a ball field.

Headley also said, “I encourage you to call if you have a question about any city operation or project.  You can stop and briefly talk to the staff on-site, if safe to do so. Call 856-0400 and you will be directed to the proper department.”