The issue of who is the ultimate supervisor of the City's Parks and Recreation Department dates back almost two decades when a combining with Public Works set off a simmering political rivalry that still exists...Its in part a personal feud and for years Council members have quietly backed one side or the other.
I think a reorganization is needed of a different sort and for different reasons. The Fairgrounds complex has evolved into a largely commercial operation with many big time events being held there. These are in many cases high dollar events which involve considerable City support to pull off. The range of events, and the need to pay for the work in support of commercial ventures requires facility management and someone overseeing the public's interest in a public facility. (I consider concerts commercial events as performers, lighting and sound people, promoters, beer sellers, and many more are doing what they do to generate profits, which I do not consider a dirty word.)
We have gotten to the point of worrying too much about whether tenant groups can make enough money on beer and worrying less about our core job which is to oversee public facilities in the public's interest...That means the people, voters and taxpayers of the City.
This became more evident to me earlier this year when I went down there to tour the newly renovated concession stand and the staffer who showed me around told me of the need for supervision of the nuts and bolts of concessions, and the related inventory and cash management issues...As it turns out this discussion for me was the canary in the coal mine as subsequent events revealed a series of issues we are now trying to sort out and still keep summer events on track.
I support the idea of direct reporting to City Hall, but the key to me is the establishment of a hierarchy at the Arena that has the skills to run what is not just hiring lifeguards and handing out kickballs. That is part of it and is important. There is a financial component that requires expertise not normally acquired in years in government.
As the debate plays out over the summer, my vision is not just settling an old score but making changes that position the facility for the growth that is occuring.
Watertown Daily Times City Recreation Department reorganization urged