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Members of the newly-recreated Bullitt County Parks and Recreation board may have been shocked at the discussion during their second meeting.
Or maybe they weren’t.
During the meeting, Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts said that she didn’t see a need for an independent parks board and a parks and recreation department under the fiscal control of county government.
In a nutshell, it would be one less problem to have and the board would could make decisions without any approval of fiscal court. That is, until budget time arrives each summer.
The problem is a much larger one than simply who will direct parks and recreation. It is a question on what is the county’s vision for the future.
Years ago, various parks directors and parks boards attempted to present annual plans full of suggestions on where the system should go. For years, either the money or the motivation were not present for fiscal court to pursue such dreams.
Only when some issues over the swimming pools arose did the parks board begin to meet once again. When that crisis was settled, the board members began to look at their true mission -- set forth a vision.
They did it and found out that their vision and the county’s financial abilities didn’t match. There was also a legal issue on how the parks board was established way back in 1971.
The board members basically gave up on their dreams and vision. We went another nine months of inactivity.
Now, a new board has been appointed and it is a very diverse group of very intelligent men. A fine group to represent the county.
County leaders must first decide if they wish to have a vision to even have a parks system. Now, the only responsibility is some park space in Pioneer Village, maintaining a few ball fields behind Roby Elementary and maintaining the three swimming pools.
That is now what a vibrant parks system should look like in one of the largest counties in Kentucky.
If you don’t have a commitment to growing the system, give it all up. Find a private contractor to take over the properties or give it to the closest municipality.
But don’t be surprised if business tenants looking at a place to locate start to pass over the county.
Let us say that the officials wisely decide that this county needs a parks and recreation system for all ages, what happens next.
What can’t happen is to simply give tax dollars to another agency and give up all control. While we trust the parks board members, it would be unwise to simply unload the money and any associated headaches to a group which doesn’t answer to anyone.
There should be no problem having both a parks department and a parks board.
We would envision a board spending time to come up with a long-term plan. And we would hope that the magistrates would then, in turn, find a way to fund reasonable projects.