Parks board takes a stance: Joint Parks & Rec agency wants to oversee all parks

Published 7:39 pm Friday, August 23, 2019

The Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreationz board wants an agreement between its parent governments that would allow it to provide programming in all parks, “not limited to just Millennium Park.”

During Wednesday’s meeting of the parks board, it unanimously approved a statement concerning how it would like to see Danville and Boyle County proceed with rehashing their joint parks venture.

The board said it would like to see an agreement between the city commission and fiscal court that provides “parks & rec services and facilities for all residents of the City of Danville and Boyle County in a fair, safe and economical manner.” It also said programs should be provided in all areas of the city and county, “not limited to just Millennium Park.”

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The board said it hopes an agreement would allow it to “administrate the development of future Parks & Rec facilities” and “provide an environment that is nurturing to the young person involved in any program.” The board said Danville and Boyle need to “look for ways to improve and expand the current programs offered” to both city and county residents.

The board also said it encourages the Boyle County Fiscal Court to develop an access point from the U.S. 127 Bypass to Millennium Park. But in the interim, it asked the fiscal court to “open the fairgrounds access gate daily, from dusk till dawn,” referring to the Whites Park gate, which has been locked since last year.

Attempts to keep the gate under lock and key due to safety concerns and road wear and tear have ended with multiple locks being cut, having to be replaced over and over, and new keys being circulated. This resulted in many being stuck inside of the park recently when unexpected state road work blocked the only open entrance to the park.

Honeymoon is over

Danville-Boyle County Parks & Rec Director John Bell said after the fiscal court presented its proposed ordinance at its Aug. 13 meeting, the parks board realized that neither the city nor county administration had asked for input from the Parks & Rec agency, prior to the presentation of each bodies’ initial drafts.

“Members of the board felt there was some confusion on what the Parks and Recreation department could do within the community, and wants to do,” Bell said Friday. As of now, Bell must refer complaints or comments about any neighborhood parks to the city.

He said the board would like additional control over the local community parks within the city and county, “in order to provide additional programming opportunities, not just within the City of Danville, but throughout Boyle County.”

Bell said the smaller parks are a great asset to any community, and can be used in ways that Millennium cannot.

“The Parks and Recreation Board would like to see these community parks turned over to the Parks & Rec department in a manner that would allow for additional programming opportunities,” he said. The board and agency want to serve the whole area, “not just the patrons who visit Millennium Park or the Bunny Davis Center.”

Bell, who came on in early May after the department was without a director since John Drake’s retirement last August, said he is ready to start speaking up more about what he feels is the right direction for the system to head in. The board’s statement is a good start to opening up the lines of communication, hopefully, he said.

“There needs to be discussions on the options that are out there, as opposed to making assumptions as to the financial impact that could be made, without having educated information,” Bell said. He gets the county’s burden of considering the price tag of a new jail, but says no one has researched what it would really cost to expand the system, and what options they can consider within what’s affordable.

“As I talk to magistrates individually, there are misconceptions of what would happen if everything would turn over to the Parks & Rec department.”