BEND, Ore. - Whether you use them to cool off, exercise , or just relax, you're bound to get some use out of Bend parks this summer.
This year, you might notice some additional staff hanging around.
"We have a lot of areas in our park district that can use a park presence," Park Services Director Pat Erwert saidTuesday.
The park district is expanding the park stewardship program it started last year. New this year: three extra staff members patrolling both community and neighborhood parks.
"We want to provide better customer service, answer questions, perhaps (help with) off-leash dog issues," Erwert said.
Park-goers NewsChannel 21 spoke with said their top concerns are vandalism and people who don't follow the rules.
'It's very disheartening to see the vandalism in the tunnel after all the effort to paint it," said Bend resident Denise Hines. "We've also had off-leash dogs running loose that have come up and challenged our dog."
Erwert said deterring crime is one goal of the expanding program.
"Compared to last year and the year before, we have spent significantly more, largely just on graffiti removal," Erwert said.
He said curbing crime is just a piece of the program's effort to prepare for the future.
"We're seeing a major increase in park-users," Erwert said. "We're also getting ready to manage increased activities, there's new development taking place up near Simpson Avenue. There's the safe-water passage, whitewater play area (that) is going in."
It means safer play for a town that loves to spend summer outdoors.
"We take care of our vehicles and our homes, and this is just as important to us," Hines said.
The park board was expected to vote on the budget for the expanded stewardship program at their meeting Tuesday night. They hope to fully implement the program in July.