The Union Recorder

March 29, 2014

Thought and care are required to improve Baldwin rec sports

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County Commission is considering re-introducing the recreation sports associations the county essentially disbanded more than two years ago when it overtook oversight.

The recreation department took over the financing, operation and development of youth leagues from volunteer parent associations after the previous county commission board voted for centralized structure. But with sponsorships and volunteers for recreation programs dwindling, regaining support from the associations is a solid notion, however, in order for it to truly be effective parents and volunteers have to be brought on board for the whole development process.

If the county truly intends for the associations to make a return the next right step to take is to re-evaluate the recreation department’s policies and procedures, streamline them — and bring the parental volunteers to the table during the process. It’s imperative that they be a part of the policy and procedures development process so they can not only give their feedback but also so everyone — county, recreation department and association representatives — can align. Only then — when there’s uniformity within the policies and procedures and how they are implemented — will the recreation programs move forward.   

Everyone has to be on board and on the same page in order for there to be community buy-in and for support to grow.

Clearly, once effective policies are in place for the recreation department, they must be implemented properly and adhered to by every sports program. Everyone — county officials, association leaders and recreation staff play a role in ensuring that the policies are followed. A part of the new development has to include a means by which both the associations and the recreation department are held accountable and checks and balances are in place to ensure that it happens.

Over time support for programs will likely return and grow, but in order for it to happen, the recreation programs have to be run more effectively — with levels of accountability that must be upheld by following a proper and effective chain of command.

The county commissioners will spend time during an upcoming work session outlining the recreation change, and that plan has to include engaging the community in the process.

The county recreation department is too large a portion of the local tax dollar pie to allow its support to continue to dissipate. Recreation programs add to the quality of life of any community, and with such a large portion of tax dollars going into local programs it’s a delicate rebuilding process.

If the county builds it — with a careful, more thoughtful approach this time around — the support will come.