Park and Recreation Commission reviewed

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Youngstown City Council is considering cutting out the city’s Park and Recreation Commission.

Since the early 1900’s, Youngstown city leaders have appointed a five-member volunteer Park and Recreation Commission. Until 2007 the commission had full authority over all finances and operations in the parks. A 2007 charter amendment took away most of the responsibility of the commission and turned it over to City Council and the Board of Control. Since then, the commission’s only responsibilities include holding meetings, hiring a director and offering recommendations.

City Council’s Park and Playgrounds committee met Wednesday to weigh the pros and cons of dissolving the Park and Recreation Commission altogether, calling it an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.

Youngstown Park Director Bob Burke was appointed by the commission. He admits at times progress in the parks is slowed by having to meet with and answer to the mayor, city council and the commission.

“But sometimes being that middle person could find something the next step might not see. Sometimes it’s a good thing,” said Burke.

Two-thirds of council would have to approve a charter amendment to do away with the commission and the issue would have to be voted on by residents.

“Things will still move on if the commission wasn’t there. Programs will still be put on, the parks are still going to run, the grass is still going to get cut, the playgrounds are still going to be taken care of and parks are still going to get built,” said Youngstown Councilman Paul Drennan, chairman of the Parks and Playground Committee.

The committee will meet again in August. They have until September to get the issue on the November ballot.

Our attempts to reach members of the Park and Recreation Commission were unsuccessful.

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