Chandler dissolves parks board at public hearing

Although the town of Chandler has not technically had a parks board for the last year, the Chandler Town Council officially dissolved the government entity during their Monday night meeting.

The Chandler Town Council announced during the public hearing on May 6 that they will take over the official duties of the Chandler Board of Parks and Recreation — which they already had been doing for the past year.

“This just makes it official,” said Chandler Town Council member Ron Whitledge.

Attorney Josh Claybourn said the steps to eliminate the parks board included passing a resolution stating that you intend to do that.

“Which you heard on November 19 of 2018 for Resolution 2018-07,” he said. “And then you have to wait six months. And after that six months, you have to have a public hearing, which brings us here today.”

Now, instead of hosting separate parks board meetings — which use to take place at 6 p.m. on every second and fourth Thursday of the month — the town council will continue to deal with parks issues during their regular town meetings, which take place at 6 p.m. on the first and second Mondays of every month.

“We have a line item on the agenda for the parks department,” Whitledge said. “So, we have been discussing it then.”

Whitledge said the parks board is usually made up of around five people who are either appointed or are volunteers for four year terms, but that they were let go last year.

“To be honest, there was a lot of friction between different [parks board members],” Whitledge said. “And, we didn’t feel like we were getting anything done because of that and that’s why we decided to re-group.”

According to the town of Chandler website, those parks board members included president Todd Hurt, vice president Kim Burnett, Gene Dockery and Terry Cupp.

Burnett was recently elected to the Chandler Town Council herself this past fall as a republican, unseating democrat Andrea Johnson.

Cupp attended the public hearing and announced his complete dissatisfaction with the council doing away with the parks board, and expressed worry about whether or not the council will actually take over ownership of [the board].

“Every time I ask someone who runs the parks, they say, ‘4A Better Chandler,’” he said of the local organization, which has built an

see board/page A2

accessible playground for children in Chandler.

Chandler Town Council Member Tonya Wester immediatley shut down that idea.

“That is incorrect because [4A Better Chandler] cannot do anything to the parks,” she said. “The parks belong to the town. And I know that there are some great ideas that are sitting up here right now.”

The Chandler Board of Parks and Recreation was first established in 1969.

According to the town of Chandler website, the parks board was “established to assist the Chandler Town Council with the development and coordination of recreational programs, as well as to help adopt rules and regulations regarding the town’s parks system. The board is advisory in nature and makes recommendations to the Chandler Town Council regarding acquisition, development, maintenance, and operation of parks, playgrounds, recreational facilities and programs.”

The two main parks they oversaw include the Chandler Sports Park, located at 405 E. Washington Ave. and the Chandler Town Park, located at North 4th Street, between Monroe Ave and Jefferson Ave, in addition to the Chandler Community Center, located at 405 Community Center Drive.

“We have a park with a lake and shelter house and a nice little playground structure that 4A Better Chandler put up,” Whitledge said. “And then we have the park with the ballfields at the Community Center and the ‘little town park’ is what we call it.”

Although Chandler’s neighboring town of Newburgh and city of Boonville both have active parks boards, Whitledge thinks the town of Chandler will prosper just fine without an “official” parks board.

“I personally think it will be an advantage for right now,” he said.

Now, although the parks board was officially dissolved at the Monday night meeting, Whitledge said the door is always open for future community members to take an interest in starting [the board] up again.

“I don’t have a problem with revisiting the parks board at a later date — I am not going to close the door on that,” he said. “I would like to see a Parks Department, and if we get people who actually come to us and say, ‘This is what we think we want to do to make the parks a better place and take this on,’ then I will be in favor of listening to them and seeing what they have to offer and go from there. This is in no way a closed book or done deal.”

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