The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Oregon council is considering reducing the seats on the Citizens’ Advisory Board for the Parks and Recreation Department from seven to three in an effort to operate more efficiently. The number would be reduced over time through attrition.
 
It is also being proposed that the board meet quarterly, preferably on Monday evenings prior to the standing council meeting, to make it easier for the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee to participate in the board meetings. “It was made aware to me that there was a desire to change the board composition,” Mayor Mike Seferian said at a committee of the whole meeting last week. “Councilman Terry Reeves, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, and council President Dennis Walendzak brought it up. We thought we could make the board more effective and work a little better with our administrator. So when the last couple of appointments on the board came up, didn’t’ actually fill those spots.”
 
“In getting people to serve,” said City Administrator Mike Beazley, “with the challenge of time and conflict, we wanted to do more to bring the Parks and Recreation Committee together with the advisory board. We think we’ll end up with more effective advice and more effective oversight. The seven member board hasn’t worked as well as I think many of the people involved in it would have liked.”
 
The city’s recreation director relies on the Citizens’ Advisory Board for advice and recreation affiliated programs, according to Beazley. 
 
Reeves said his committee has already discussed the matter. “We need to be more effective and efficient. There are several times when we don’t have a quorum on the board, not enough board members,” said Reeves. “Right now, we have two vacant seats on the board, so we’re down to five members. Their terms ran out at the end of December. We have two more terms expiring at the end of this year.” Members of the board must be residents of the city and are appointed by the mayor with the concurrence of council for terms of three years.
 
"There were also discussions on whether or not to have term limits,” said Seferian. “It would keep a certain freshness to that body. That’s something we could add. It depends on what council wants to do with it.”
 
Dedicated members
Councilwoman Sandy Bihn said the advisory board was, at one time, staffed by people who were very committed to recreation in the city. She was concerned the city would lose some of that input.
 
“This used to be a very active, community based group of people who really cared about our rec program,” said Bihn. “Many times it was controversial, but that’s because many people have different opinions, and when it comes to recreation, it’s kind of tough. What I’m concerned about is, for the people who have served, how are they reflecting on this? Are we just tossing them to the side? Do we have their input? I don’t see anyone here one way or the other. I know a lot of those people have given a lot of dedicated time. People may not always agree with them, but I think their hearts and souls were truly in a community recreation program. I’m a little concerned about how this plays.”
 
Walendzak said he spoke to a current board member who didn’t think there should even be a board. “He said, from their standpoint, we shouldn’t even have one because it does nothing right now,” said Walendzak.
 
“In a roundabout way,” responded Bihn, “that is what I was talking about. How is this going to solve some of the problems that we’ve had?” She said she was also concerned the director of the recreation department and members of the board were not at the meeting to provide feedback.
 
Beazley said he relied on input from a lot of people most actively involved in city recreation, including the chairman of the Recreation and Parks Committee.
 
Not everyone will feel the same way about it,” he said. “Some will think it’s a good change, others won’t be very excited about it. We’re looking to have the meetings more meaningful by having them be with the council committee, and having more of a focus on what’s going on, and recreational opportunities. The council committee chair met with us and asked us to draw up the legislation. We thought it was good legislation. It’s council’s call. Recreation and sports is always going to have some controversy associated with it. When teams don’t win all their games…it’s hard on the coaches, the parents, and the community. We think that this is a pattern that can allow us to continue to improve. Until we try it, we don’t know. If it turns out we need to revamp it, we’ll be back to council asking them to take a look at it again.”
 
 
 
 
 
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