20160511_MET_GRASS_NO02

A Department of Public Works crew mows near the south entrance to the Lee Bridge.

Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. said Thursday that his office will provide a work detail of about six inmates to help the city keep grass on public property mowed this summer.

City officials have said that because of a lack of funding, the Department of Public Works would be able to mow many parks and medians only once this summer. Already, grass has grown unruly, and that has prompted some volunteers to mow city properties on their own.

Woody said he will select nonviolent inmates for the team, which will “focus on the beautification of public-owned city parks, including Bryan Park, Byrd Park, Chimborazo Park and Forest Hill Park.”

Sharon North, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, said the department welcomes “all forms of assistance available to us throughout the mowing season,” though it’s not clear to what extent the inmate crew will alleviate the problem.

City officials have said they currently have only 21 staff members dedicated to cutting grass and would need about 40 more to meet an “acceptable public perception.”

When the city first announced this month it would not be mowing grass frequently this summer, City Council members immediately suggested turning to the city’s jail population for help.

At the time, city officials said the suggestion was not practical because the jail was able to provide only a limited number of crews and the city didn’t have the money to compensate the crews.

North referred further questions about the arrangement to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s officials confirmed that inmates will need to be paid $10 by the city for each day they work. They will use city equipment, they said.

Tony H. Pham, the sheriff office’s general counsel, said the volume of work done will “fluctuate based on the needs of the city.”

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noliver@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6580

Twitter: @nedoliver

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