High Achiever - Parks Maintenance Leading Hand Officer, Mark Smith

Article image - High Achiever - Parks Maintenance Leading Hand Officer, Mark Smith Rain, hail or shine the Parks team will always be back tomorrow - Mark Smith (far right) with Parks Maintenance Officers Ben Stockdale and Todd Nash on the ride-on mower. Image courtesy of Comment News.

City of Armadale, Western Australia, employee Mark Smith, knows first-hand the hard work and dedication the City’s Parks Maintenance team put into maintaining over 700 parks and reserves across the City.

Mark has worked at the City since 1984 and in that time he has worked alongside his colleagues rain, hail and shine to maintain the green spaces that residents enjoy.

Each morning at 6.45am, four crews of three begin their day with a 15 minute pre-start safety check of their machinery before setting off at 7am for a day of lawn mowing, tree pruning, planting, picking up rubbish, mulching and trimming at designated parks.

Every three months, the team is rotated between active sports ovals, irrigated reserves, and non-irrigated reserves to provide variety.
Over three decades later, Mark’s love for working in the outdoors and with the public has kept him thriving in the role.

“It’s always good when a member of the public gives us a compliment. We’ve had lots of comments on how the parks have improved.”

Mayor Henry Zelones, OAM, JP, nominated Mark as LG Focus High Achiever for being consistently hard working and dedicated, and for supporting the Parks Team, Park Supervisors and management in his 35 years with Council.

“Mark is often called upon to fill in for Parks Supervisory staff during periods of absence, attend call-outs after hours and undertake overtime for weekend work,” the Mayor said.

“He can always be relied on to get the job done to a high quality.”
During his time, Mark has watched public open spaces increase and gardening equipment and technologies evolve.

“When I first started there were more rural mowing jobs and the leading hands would pick and choose what parks they wanted to work on that day.

Since then, the rapid growth of the City has seen an increase in parks and open spaces. Today, the Parks and Reserves department manage 795 classified parks and reserves, 236 public access ways and 30,000 planted street trees.

The Parks Maintenance team is made up of 32 field staff and 14 others who are based at the depot who manage the logistics behind bush care, estates, parks, streetscapes and irrigation.

“There’s a lot of logistics that are coordinated behind the scenes including returfing, changing over sports pitches and goal posts, re-seeding and fertilising and auditing the sports oval lighting, to name a few.

“The technology has also improved since I started. Now we have improved irrigation systems to water the grass and hydraulic tilts on the trucks to make it easier and quicker to load and unload branches whereas we used to have to drag the branches by hand,” he added.
Like every job, it has its challenges, mostly around scheduling and trying to work around animals, people and cars while keeping a 20 metre exclusion zone from the public at all times.

“We try to keep the parks open and friendly for people to use,” he added.

While the team have a set schedule to follow each day, a healthy amount of flexibility is also required in the event they need to urgently stop their work and move on to another site to clean up hazards including broken glass, graffiti, or dumped rubbish.

“We are also happy to help out members of the public. Sometimes we get stopped during our work to help members of the public who have lost their dog or their phone and ask us if we have seen them.

“At the end of the day, we all take pride in our jobs. I know one guy at the depot who’ll see something that needs to be fixed on his way home after a day at work and he will stop and just fix it. We want our parks and outdoor spaces to be enjoyed by our community, and enjoy helping make that possible.”

Mayor Zelones added, “Mark, like so many of our staff, is local and truly wishes to and is making a difference in our parks and in our community on a daily basis.”