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Parks & Rec working group must be ego-free

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

The newly minted Parks & Recreation “working group” formed by Danville and Boyle County is an opportunity for both governments to put past disagreements behind them and find consensus on a topic of surprising significance for the future.

But city and county officials must put aside their egos and adopt a spirit of cooperation as they begin meeting. Otherwise, the working group is doomed to become just the latest failed attempt to resolve years of disagreements between the two governments.

The late Parks & Rec ad hoc committee was the most recent experiment that ultimately went sideways. It can tout some victories: It was instrumental in upgrading many facilities in Millennium Park. It increased public conversation about Parks & Rec so that the city and county’s disagreements could at least be sanitized by a little sunlight. But it was also plagued by miscommunication and power plays. It became a cage match where both governments could vent their frustration at the other side for not seeing things their way.

We hope the new working group doesn’t become just another cage match. It will require officials to be bigger people than they’ve been in the past.

Those who can’t stand the suggestion of a new aquatic facility will have to accept that while it may not be to their taste, there are 30,000 people in Boyle County and many of them would love to see it happen.

Those salivating over a dream park system that makes Boyle County the envy of the state will have to accept that a large chunk of the county consists of rural residents who might have different priorities.

There can be no space on anyone’s agenda for power grabs or coups.

All those involved must come to the table with a goal of finding a mutually agreeable arrangement.

What each side wants should inform the discussion. But it shouldn’t be a hard-nosed, car dealership negotiation, where both sides are trying to extract as many concessions from the other as possible. It should be a family meeting, where everyone is more concerned about living together happily in the future.

If our leaders can accomplish that, they will serve as excellent role models for their constituents, and they will build a strong foundation for further cooperation and success.