Page:Olmsted report on Portland, Oregon parks, 1903.djvu/16

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28
REPORT OF THE PARK BOARD


Experience proves that the most successful government of important park systems is by a small board of unpaid park commissioners. There should be not less than three nor more than five members, who should he appointed for long, over-lapping terms and should usually be repeatedly appointed. Park commissioners should be appointed by some authority as little concerned with local politics as possible and yet sufficiently widely and well acquainted with the best educated class of citizens to be able to select those best fitted for the duties of park commissioners. The Board should be financially independent of the city government but should work harmoniously with other city departments. The Board should not meet normally oftener than once a month else the ablest and most desirable men who are therefore the busiest men, may decline to serve, but most matters except matters of taste, can be referred to committees of one or two members who can, at their convenience examine into subjects too complicated to be decided off-hand at Board meetings and after due conference with the principal employees of the Board can report to the Board. The Board should hear reports from its principal employees and pass upon questions of greater importance than should be decided by an employee, mainly questions of general policy. In general, the Board should leave planning to competent experts and the execution of plans, including the selection of subordinates, to an efficient and specially trained superintendent, so far as his capacity, theoretical knowledge and practical experience makes it safe to do so. The commissioners should, of course, keep sufficiently familiar with the work to intelligently pass upon all questions brought before them at their meetings, but they should not individually direct work nor give orders. Fortunately it is a healthful and more or less recreative task for park commissioners to inspect parks.

The president of a park commission should be an able administrator, preferably a man who is in active control of many and large commercial undertakings. He should have traveled enough to have gained a general knowledge of the characteristics that combine to make the parks of other cities beautiful. During the times when important land deals are under consideration, the president of the Board should be a man who has been successful in that line incidentally to the establishment or extension of some large commercial undertaking. A resourceful man, with strength of character, persistence, sound judgment, and above all, tact, can often save a city a large percentage in cost of land for parks.

But whether or not the president of the Board is both an able business man and a good judge of park beauty, it is of the utmost importance that the rest of the Board be men of refined taste and competent