PORTER | During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Porter Town Council introduced an ordinance to restructure the department of parks and recreation.
After lengthy discussion at the last meeting, Council President Elka Nelson proposed restructuring the department to save money, looking to move the management of park employees to the Town Council and to replace the structure of the park board, not the individuals, as an advisory board.
“And I would like to discuss an expansion of that advisory board,” Nelson said, “to include a member of the senior community, a member from a civic organization, and a member from the business community in addition to the current four members, to encourage more diversity and input.”
Park Board member Jeff Bailey said although in the past he disagreed with bringing the park board under town regulation, he felt the intention of that attempt was for different reasons -- for “power and control.”
He now supports the resolution and encouraged them to “do it quickly” to avoid any further division within the town.
Resident Terry Gault questioned the function of the park board and what responsibilities the council would now have under its jurisdiction and Nelson replied that department heads have proven themselves to be competent and capable for handling the work of the park, the town is in the position to hire more employees, and the budgeting would be the main concern of the council.
“The advisory board would still have the same role in creativity and activities. ...alleviating some of the administrative tasks will free up the advisory board members so they can get out into the community and keep our parks productive. We can use all of our resources together to make our parks very inviting,” Nelson said.
Council member Dave Wodrich expressed his gratitude to the current park board members, he said the proposal was in no way an attempt to remove any of them, and he encouraged the park board members to stay with the advisory board.
Former park board member Patty Raffin said much of the park board’s work is a civic duty, a labor of love, and that members give their volunteer time and money for the parks above and beyond the small amount of money, $50 a month, they receive for the job.
Raffin asked if the council members would be willing to reduce the money they receive for their civic duty, but Nelson replied that by law they were not allowed to do so and that she resented the suggestion.
The proposal will be voted on at the Town Council's Oct. 22 meeting.