Astorians wonder why their parks have been reduced to brown grass and dying plants, why garbage cans overflow and trash isn't cleaned up promptly at the cities premeire attractions much less the many neighborhood parks that dot the city. Last night the Astoria city council got an earfull from private citizens and former parks employees
who questioned the Mayor and City Manager. City watchdog Don Webb called for the immediate replacement of Parks and Community Services Director J.P. Moss. Webb said that he understands that Mr. Moss is a contractor with the city and does not get perks like public employee retirement but, he points out that Moss is compensated some $12,500 monthly plus $500.00 a month in expenses. Webb asks how much longer Moss will be in charge and asks why the city has not sought a permanent replacement to head the parks department. City Manager Paul Benoit explained that Moss brings a business perspective to the parks department that someone who has a history as a public employee might not be able to do. He pointed out that when Moss first came on board the Aquatic Center was costing the city about $400,000 a year with a growing deficit which has been reduced to $100,000. He pointed to the fact that the department has expanded indoor recreation, operates the Port O'Play and a daycare at Gray School which actually brings money into the city.
The council has directed Benoit to bring a comprehensive parks department plan for them to look at withing the next few weeks. Benoit says he should have that ready by the first meeting in November.
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