College Photographer. Knox Alum. Young Photojournalist.

Understanding Differences Between Two Similar Departments

GALESBURG – The Parks Department and the Recreation Division normally function under the same part of government, but that’s not the case in Galesburg.

In other cities it is common to see the two departments listed as the Parks and Recreation Department, but in Galesburg the Recreation Division lies in the Community Development Department, while the Parks Department works under the Public Works Department.

With this separation comes a bit of confusion on what each department’s list of duties is.


“Basically we are in charge of everything that you don’t drive on or drink out of the faucet,” said Parks Superintendent, Don Miles.

“We oversee the armory building, we over see the Amtrak Depot, we mow down there. [At] City Hall and the Public Safety building we do all the mowing and trimming and landscaping. We are just spread out.”

In addition the Parks Department also mows other city owned lots, shovels snow north of Fremont Street and maintains numerous pieces of equipment, cemeteries, the airport, campgrounds, baseball fields, Bunker Links Golf Course and most of the parks in the city.

Certainly this list is lengthy, but the Recreation Department has a lengthy list itself.

“We wear numerous hats,” said Recreation Superintendent, Roger Sensabaugh.  “My position here as superintendent of recreation is basically to operate the recreation division as it is, but I also do youth sports, adult sports, basically the sports for the City of Galesburg and all the concessions at the facilities, hire recreations attendants for the facilities in the evenings and basically maintain the facilities and oversee the maintenance for the recreation division.”

The Recreation Department’s maintenance duties are shorter than the long list for the Parks Department. The maintenance of Hawthorn Center, Lake Storey Pavilion, Lakeside Water Park, Lakeside Recreation Facility, Lake Storey Beach and the cities’ softball fields.

In addition the Department is in charge of maintaining staff for the different programs and events the city runs.

The Rec. Department employees a larger staff than the Parks Department but they have to run most of the recreation programs the city hosts. The Rec. Department employees 6 full time staff and up to 125 part timers depending on the season. The Parks Department has 14 full time employees throughout the Department as well as up to 45 temporary employees during the summer months.

This separation is often blurred but to benefit both departments. “We work pretty closely together when we need to,” said Sensabaugh. “When we get into a bind they help us out, if they get behind in mowing, when it rains especially in the spring, we will jump in and help them mow.”

One thing both departments share is the current budget crunch. Both departments, as well as others, have struggled to make ends meet over the past few years. “I think it has hurt all municipalities in the state of Illinois as far as that goes,” said Sensabaugh. “We are affected but probably no more or more less than the street department or the parks department or police and fire. I think everyone takes a hit.”

This budget issue has affected the abilities of both departments to make improvements on buildings or other parts of the parks. “One thing we wanted to do for a long time would be another play feature at the water park to try to reinvent the water park,” said Sensabaugh. Unfortunately the budget has been limited to an operational amount and all capital projects have been cut.

“We have been getting our budget cut every year and losing our temporary personal because we can’t spend the money, so we do what we can touching up things,” said Miles. This has kept the Parks Department on a more preventive repair schedule.

These differences may not be clear-cut, but the similarities and connections between the two departments provide a cleaner city and a better parks system.

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