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Parks arrangement creates optimism for 2020

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

There has been plenty of bad news this year, but there have also been good news stories and developments that bode well for 2020.

One of the news stories that has us most hopeful for the coming year is the freshly minted agreement between Danville and Boyle County on parks and recreation.

It certainly wasn’t easy to get here, and at times, officials made it harder than it needed to be. But today, city and county officials have reached an agreement that both sides believe will be beneficial for the future.

It’s not the specifics of the agreement that matter nearly as much as the spirit of cooperation that now exists between the leaders of the two governments.

The arrangement could have been reversed, with Boyle County running the show and Danville paying a portion of the costs. The governments could have come up with something else completely different. They could have maintained the same arrangement for running parks and recreation that’s been in place for years. Any and all of the above could and would work fine, as long as the two governments are working together and communicating clearly.

The new arrangement doesn’t take effect until July, but we think the whole year can be filled with positives for parks and recreation, and for the city-county relationship. An early opportunity — and test — will be the budgeting process in spring, when both governments will be setting their budgets for the 2020-21 fiscal year, including what they spend and how they spend it on parks and recreation. The agreement in place now calls for $223,000 from Boyle County Fiscal Court. That seems fairly straightforward, but the budgeting process is rarely simple and there could easily be some questions brought up or changes proposed.

Hopefully, the attitude brought forward by both governments these past couple months persists and any issues that do arise can be handled with grace and without jumping to any conclusions or suspecting bad motives.

Such a test might be a good thing because it will allow both governments to see that the other is serious about cooperating. That would build trust, helping further solidify a positive alliance.

Once the budgeting process is done, it will be time to see what the new parks department is capable of. We like the ideas suggested so far, including increased programming at all the parks around Danville and increased parks and recreation services in other Boyle County communities, such as Junction City and Perryville.

Expectations for the first year should be tempered — continuing existing parks and rec services while figuring out the new organizational structure will already be more work than usual. But over time, with an arrangement supported by all the involved players, we think a lot really is possible.

We’re looking forward to a year of better news on parks and recreation, and many years of continually improving parks services for Boyle County residents.