Boyle magistrates want more time to consider Parks & Rec candidates

Published 7:44 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Tuesday, Boyle Fiscal Court tabled any action on appointing new members to the Danville-Boyle County Parks & Recreation Board after a lengthy discussion about the process.

Magistrate Jason Cullen gave a report from the Parks Committee, which he serves on with Magistrate Phil Sammons. Cullen said the committee meeting also included parks employees John Cocanougher, Harold Logue, Evan Teague and Morgan Burger, three of whom were present at the fiscal court meeting.

An email from Cocanougher was circulated, which listed several names as recommendations of appointments to the Parks & Rec Board. Board Chair Roger Ross and member Cicely Napier will both be rotating off since their terms have expired.

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Judge-Executive Howard Hunt said the court wasn’t prepared to vote on any of the names recommended, because he didn’t receive the email until Friday afternoon and hadn’t had time to focus on it.

Cullen also brought up employees’ concerns over Whites Park Road being gated off, which had been used as a cut-through into Millennium Park off the bypass, near the fairgrounds. The court voted to close and lock the gates back in June due complaints about speeding cars through the area, which is next to a playground.

“They feel there’s a safety issue” about the gate being locked, “since there’s only one way in and out of Millennium Park,” Cullen said.

It’s also been an issue for maintenance reasons, he said. “Having to go from the softball fields, all the way out to Perryville Road and go all the way around to (U.S.) 150.”

Cullen said the committee thought it was time to look at reopening the gate.

Hunt said his biggest concern is putting too much traffic on the road. “It’s not designed for heavy equipment, whether it be related to the school or coming from the park,” he said. He said all of the issues needed to be discussed, but he wanted to give them “due diligence” and put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Magistrate Cullen said the problem is the Parks & Rec board needs to be in place before it can find a new director, which it has been without since former director John Drake retired. “Because technically the board is the one who hires that director. If we’re going to hold off, we’re going to make a longer gap for them making an informed decision on the next director.”

“I’d like to say we’re not into the sports season right now because we don’t have an ice skating rink out there at the park,” Magistrate Tom Ellis said. “I’d rather take it slow and make sure we’re in a deliberate process about this, because we’re not in a sports session right now. Because we’re just seeing this (email) dated at 3:05 p.m. on Friday, and there’s nothing about the director canvas, plus the fact that (the job description) has been reposted (by the city)… I’d rather suffer through a month or so and do it well.”

Cullen said, “but given that Kentucky’s a big basketball state, I would say we’re in prime season of sports.” He said baseball, football and soccer may not be going on, “but they are running 57 basketball teams, not an easy feat among the three gentlemen back there,” referring to the parks employees at the meeting.

Magistrate Gay said the court does need to take its time and “do it right, but at the same time there’s a lot going on and preparation for the summer and other things that would be happening at this point and time.” He asked what the process is, going forward, to appoint people to the board.

“When you have a committee opening that’s easy to do and not real hard, the judge can do it fairly easy. When it’s a difficult position, a committee got called together, looking for names and help,” Magistrate John Caywood said. “The judge usually did it and really wasn’t a big deal. But we can give names.”

“I wasn’t aware until today that these positions were even vacant,” Gay said.

“Likewise,” Ellis said.

Cullen said the committee was just informed Monday during its meeting about the vacancies.

“These are non-paid volunteers,” Caywood said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get folks to volunteer for them.”

“I think a committee would have to go about nominating them. Because we are under open meetings laws, it’s not like we can go hang out in judge’s chambers and discuss it,” Cullen said.

“You could give the judge the name and we’d discuss it and it would be voted on,” Caywood said. “Open meetings law didn’t come into play.”

After the meeting, Cocanougher — who is a program coordinator for Parks & Rec, said he understood the court needing more time on the appointments. As far as the comments by Magistrate Ellis about it not being “sports season” right now, Cocanougher said many don’t realize the work and scheduling with Parks & Rec goes on all year.

“This is the time of year when we’re planning baseball and softball. There’s really not a lot of lulls,” he said. “And it’s almost a brand new court. They just got the names late Friday afternoon, then Monday was a holiday. I understood how they couldn’t make a decision Tuesday.”