Former rec board head addresses council

by W. Winston Skinner

Mary Elder says the new year began with good prospects for Grantville’s Recreation Board — and then it was dissolved.

Elder, a retired teacher who was chairing the board when Grantville City Council dissolved the board earlier this month, spoke at the council meeting Monday at city hall in the Glanton Compex. Elder said it has been incorrectly suggested recreation board members had children say they were opposed to the splash park that is now under construction.

She said there were objections to the location of the park — and concerns the city might eliminate the longheld summer recreation program. “We love the summer camp, and we would like for this to continue,” Elder said.

Elder said Mayor Jim Sells attended the board’s first meeting of 2014, which was pleasant. “It appeared it would be much better working together … a much better relationship,” she told the council.

“We left the meeting with a very good feeling about 2014. Little did we know that within a week there would be vote for the board to be dissolved,” Elder added.

During elections last year, Sells openly campaigned for Leonard Gomez and David Riley, who defeated incumbent council members. “The mayor has made it clear that you are his boys,” Elder told the new councilmen.

Sells reprimanded Elder for the remark — calling it “unnecessary.”

Elder encouraged Gomez and Riley “to be open minded and consider all of the citizens … to think for all the citizens, think for yourselves.”

Sells explained some of the thoughts behind the decision to deactivate the recreation board. “We need a full-time educated experienced recreational director to tell us what to do because we don’t know what we’re doing,” he said. “Even the recreation advisory board has recommended this.”

Efforts are under way to find a recreation director. “We’ve reached out beyond Newnan. It’s hard to find a good one,” Sells said.

Sells said he wants someone to make “Grantville recreation well above what it is now.”

The summer program is “not canceled,” Sells said. “We’ll have the summer program again this summer.”

Gomez also spoke in favor of a recreation director who could develop programs for youth to “keep them away from drugs.” He explained, “We need to… bring someone in here, to have someone help us develop some programs.”

Councilman Barham Lundy expressed a different view. “Why hire a director when you don’t have a building where you can have a program?” he asked. Lundy said a paid director “won’t be able to do any more than the people on this recreation board, because he won’t have any more to work with.”

Councilman Johnny Cooks said the $30,000 budgeted for recreation will not get the city a good director. “I agree with that,” Sells said — adding the city will have to look for funds elsewhere in the budget.

Lundy also objected to the city looking outside the city for a director when someone with a degree in parks and recreation was serving on the deactivated board in a volunteer capacity.

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