Parks & Recreation launches Twitter feed

Account @JuneauParks established to inform public

Juneau Parks and Recreation now has a Twitter feed to keep members of the public appraised of what is going on in the City and Borough of Juneau’s parks.

The Twitter account @JuneauParks was the brainchild of Chris Cote, parks maintenance crew leader for the department, who said he came up with the idea last month.

“It just kind of came to me,” said Cote. “It seems like everyone’s on the Internet these days, on social media sites.”

Cote said @JuneauParks will be used to “advise the public of the types of closures and maintenance we’re doing on the parks.”

George Schaaf, parks and landscape superintendent, said Twitter is a convenient means of mass communication for the department.

“This seemed like a really easy and free way to get the word out,” said Schaaf. “You know, we don’t have a real budget for publicity and that kind of thing, or advertising.”

But although the creation of @JuneauParks was announced last Friday, as of late Wednesday afternoon, it had just seven “followers,” accounts set to receive its updates on their own Twitter feeds.

Schaaf said the department is still working to attract public interest in the Twitter account.

“Sending that (Aug. 31) press release out was one attempt, and we’re putting up signs, actually, as our crew makes its normal rounds,” Schaaf said.

The release announcing the account’s creation read in part, “Signs will be posted in parks throughout Juneau allowing visitors to access the Twitter feed with their smartphones by scanning a special barcode.”

Schaaf added, “Hopefully word-of-mouth … will take off.”

The Juneau Police Department is one of the only other city agencies that currently operates a Twitter feed. That account, @JuneauPD, has been operating since late March 2009. It hit 1,000 followers in May 2010 and had 2,754 followers as of Wednesday afternoon.

@JuneauPD is linked to the JPD’s “Ask A Dispatcher” service, which allows people to ask emergency dispatchers general questions via an online form.

“Other than that, I monitor it and check to see if we have responses,” said Cindee Brown-Mills, who operates the @JuneauPD feed. “The more time I have to participate in it and actually talk to people and respond back, the more active people are in talking to us.”

The JPD Twitter feed is also used, like @JuneauParks, to disseminate important information.

“If there’s road closures or accidents, especially right around the commute times, if I’m able to see that, then I definitely will post that on Twitter,” Brown-Mills said. “But I’m not always able to do that.”

Bartlett Regional Hospital, which operates as an enterprise fund within city government, also has a Twitter feed, @BartlettHosp. The Bartlett feed frequently posts links directing followers to its Facebook page.

Cote said that when he came up with the idea of using social media to communicate with members of the public, he initially proposed using Facebook, but that notion was not received as well.

“(Schaaf) gave me the example of Alaska Airlines. They got torn up on their Facebook by a couple of comments,” Cote said, referring to an incident last month in which the company received heavy criticism on the social media website. “I guess the city doesn’t want to go through that, and I totally understand. This is a lot less work.”

Eaglecrest Ski Area, a special revenue fund of the city, also operates a Facebook page. However, Eaglecrest is not on Twitter.

ï Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at 


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