Vacancies on Parks & Rec board filled

Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Two new board members were appointed to the Danville-Boyle County Parks & Recreation Board this week by the city and county — David Camic and Ed Rall. However, the next move to follow after the county rejected the city’s offer to take over management of the agency is yet to be determined.

There were two vacancies on the Parks & Rec board — a county-appointed seat and a joint city/county seat. Monday night, the Danville City Commission unanimously voted in Camic as its joint appointment, and Boyle Fiscal Court also unanimously approved Tuesday.

Camic is a retired veteran coach. Danville Mayor Mike Perros said he and Boyle Judge-Executive Howard Hunt agreed on recommending Camic for the seat.

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Tuesday, Magistrate Phil Sammons made the motion to appoint Rall, who was among three names proposed at the fiscal court meeting and had already been on a list of recommendations submitted previously by parks staff member John Cocanougher.

Magistrate Tom Ellis seconded the motion, admitting he “stepped on things” back in January when he questioned whether the court needed to make immediate decisions on the Parks & Rec appointments. Ellis said he had a conversation with Cocanougher and now understands the sense of urgency.

Magistrate Jamey Gay spoke highly of Rall, but was interested in getting someone who didn’t live within city limits, which has often been the case for county appointments. “And that’s two baseball hall-of-famers that could be coming on the board together. Not sure if there’s some duplication …”

Sammons reminded Gay “just how long this has been going on.” Parks & Rec has been without a director since John Drake retired in August, and according to the city and county ordinance, the board is responsible for hiring a new one. That has been held up with expiring board member terms, and the debate over whether the agency would be better off managed by one government entity — a recommendation Danville has pushed for based on its recently completed master parks plan.

Magistrate Jason Cullen said, “We need to get the board together so they can hire a director.” He complimented the Parks & Rec staff on how well they’ve done their job while the position has been vacant.

Magistrates ended up agreeing Rall fit the bill with his athletics experience, and the motion to appoint him passed unanimously. Both appointees will serve until 2023.

“I’m happy to hear the city would appoint someone,” Cullen said. “Looks like they still like us, still want to be partners. Encouraging.”

Gay agreed, saying he hoped it was an encouraging sign that the city is on board with operating within the existing ordinance, which mandates a jointly-operated board overseeing the agency.

“I think the board will be capable in moving forward with its process of finding a director,” Gay said.

Working on a new plan

During Monday’s city commission meeting, City Manager Scott opted not to make a presentation he had planned on the Parks & Rec ordinances. He said he decided against it because Judge-Executive Hunt had reached out to him.

Scott said Hunt plans to have conversations with the fiscal court. “And I want to have some with the city commission. … Perhaps by the rough proposal he presented to me on the phone … I think it would be counterproductive to discuss it yet.”

City Commissioner J.H. Atkins asked the commission if he could try his hand at developing a plan and proposal for Parks & Rec. “I think I can put together a plan that would be acceptable by the community as well as the two governing bodies.”

Atkins said there should be no division, and they should “let Parks & Rec manage Parks & Rec.” He said he wanted to put a stop to all the “rumors and innuendos.”

“I want to offer my service to put together something real simple, and get back to where it’s a 50/50 agreement and allow the Parks & Rec board to do their job,” Atkins said.

City Attorney Stephen Dexter sternly cautioned Atkins on getting independently involved, saying the commission needed to respond as a body, and all ideas should be given to Scott. He told Atkins there may be “issues that have been negotiated and discussed you may not be aware of.” Dexter noted two commissioners had already attempted negotiations through a previous subcommittee and weren’t able to succeed.

Tuesday, Scott said he is “hopeful that the county judge and I may have a draft agreement we can present to the two bodies. I’m hopeful, don’t know if it’s going to occur.” He said Hunt had some ideas that weren’t discussed or presented before.

“I’m presuming he’s going to do it in the near future with members of fiscal court,” Scott said. He declined to explain what the rough plan was until Hunt has had an opportunity to discuss it with magistrates.

“If we can’t have that agreement, we’re going to scratch our heads and say ‘what’s next?’” Scott said.

Hunt also declined to share any details of what he and Scott discussed. “I’m just trying to brainstorm and think of some way I can approach the magistrates and try to improve communications, and see if — long-term — if they’re really looking at all that’s potentially involved in being a partner down the road.”

Nothing was discussed about any further ideas on running Parks & Rec during Tuesday’s court meeting. Hunt said his idea didn’t have “any traction yet,” but it’s important to him to keep the dialogue going with the city.

“I don’t have anything etched in soft concrete. There’s something I’d like to throw out on the table, but I may have to say, ‘Ron, I don’t have anything,’” Hunt said. “I don’t want it to be contentious between the city and county.”