MILLEDGEVILLE — The existing Baldwin County Parks and Recreation Policies and Procedures, established in 2009, don’t reflect how the county currently runs the recreation center.
Recreation Director Bill McNair wrote an updated draft with alterations describing how the department operates now and how he would like to handle business in the future. The recreation committee comprised of County Commissioners Tommy French, District 2, and Henry Craig, District 4, along with County Manager Ralph McMullen discussed the rough document with McNair at length Tuesday.
Talking points included sports associations, fee structures and recreational facility use policy for activities other than by approved sports organizations.
“It’s a very broad policy that we are describing today,” Craig said. “As the committee gets closer to something that we can support, then it will be made public to the community and to the entire Board of Commissioners for their consideration also.”
The county must choose between going “wholeheartedly” with associations offering the programs or looking at McNair’s concept of booster club-type assistance to the park, according to McMullen.
“This is our No. 1 hurdle,” the manager said.
The recreation department proposed handling financing, operation and development of youth leagues with volunteer sports association support. The Old Capitol Soccer League Association is the only county sport running itself after the previous commissioners granted that concession last summer.
McNair wants everything to run through the department, while the parental volunteers help with day-to-day duties.
Associations would form their executive board acting similar to a booster club serving as an advisory group, raising funds for program benefit, assisting in recruitment and providing other help upon Recreation Department request.
“This is a booster club that actually gets in and helps out with everything else too up front to develop the program,” McNair said Tuesday. “They would do what they do running the program, but we would be in charge of it.”
Money raised must go back to the particular sport’s program per this policy and procedure draft.
Overall, French said written stipulations for funds raised should go to the right place.
“We need to make sure that whatever people donate or spend for recreation purposes should stay there,” French said. “We must be accountable at all costs.”
McNair wants continuity year-to-year when parents leave after their kids age out. A sport specific advisor and secretary would attend all meetings and keep parents in the loop.
“All the organizations would be run the same way,” the recreation director said. “In each group there are certain things that apply to those groups, but we made concessions for those too.”
The recreation department essentially runs this way already with the exception of soccer.
Craig said soccer runs successfully as a separate organization, and he doesn’t want to change something that isn’t broken.
“I haven’t had any gripes,” McNair said.
The recreation department has to decide on seasons also. For instance, Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) soccer season is fall only.
An idea that county approved associations running teams during other parts of the year must rent the facility and handle all operations was a recreation department suggestion.
Currently, travel ball type teams pay nothing for facility use out of GRPA sanction seasons. McNair thinks the county should receive compensation.
Craig said “that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Overall, Craig advocates a written policy detailing how the county expects, not hopes, recreation to run. All organizations should expect the same thing though soccer stands alone right now, according to the commissioner.
“We have two standards right now we’ve just never written them down,” Craig added.
French wants everything to be the same “point blank” to make everyone’s job easier. No different rules.
Unless a volunteer run association supplies all the Georgia Secretary of State required financials, the District 2 Commissioner said the park should take over.
“Our policy should state that,” French said. “Any one of these could continue as an association if they meet those qualifications.”
McNair will reach out to the Old Capitol Soccer League Association for its input into the county’s possible centralized only direction.
“We are all thinking centralized right now we are just trying to get soccer to come our way in a way that’s acceptable to them and their kids,” Craig said.
French said full recreation operational control is the only way to hold the department financially accountable.
An upcoming county commissioners work session will feature recreation discussion to involve community parties.