Parks Commission addresses community concerns


The Monticello Parks and Recreation Commission met at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 1, at the Sadie Johnson Building. After the roll call, it was determined that all of the commissioners were present. The minutes from the June meeting were reviewed and approved.

Gerald Shepherd, Parks Superintendent, gave his report next. He addressed the project that would add lights at the Monticello Sports Complex. Shepherd said that the project would start at the end of August or the beginning of September. This would provide lighting for the Miracle League Field.

Shepherd also reported that he had received bids for concrete bays to be built at the complex. These bays would hold the dirt and sand used to dress the fields. One bid came in over $30,000 and the other came in over $60,000. Shepherd said that they would need to explore different options such as building the concrete slabs first and adding the walls later.

Shepherd said that his crews were having issues mowing one of the disc golf areas due to the slab being built up too high. He said they needed to figure out a way to get a mower up there if that meant building a ramp or some other option.

Shepherd added that he had spoken with someone at the Municipal League about fixing storm damage to the dugout roofs at the complex.

There will be a swim meet from July 12-13. Shepherd said his crews are working to make sure the pool and McCloy Park are ready to go.

The meeting took a different turn after Shepherd’s report.

“It has been brought to my attention through screenshots of social media posts that were sent to me that there is an issue with the conversation that we had at last month’s meeting,” Commission Chairperson Amanda Killingsworth said. “We had a discussion, but not a vote on whether or not to lock the gates at the sports complex. Before we start that discussion, I wanted to speak on behalf of everyone on this commission. In the comments that I read, I was pretty let down by some of the things that were said. While we see the community of Fordyce come together to work through what they are going through, our community is arguing over the sports complex, complete with name-calling and bashing of the volunteers on this committee. We pay taxes just like everyone else, and do this on a volunteer basis. We are tasked with making our community parks the best that they can be with what we have to work with.”

Killngsworth added that the number of complaints the commission receives is incredibly high. She said it was due to people not being able to go to the complex and just enjoy themselves and just get along.

One citizen who was present admitted that he had made a social media post, but that his post was in no way meant to bash anyone. His main concern was being unable to take his son or daughter to the complex to toss a ball around or take some batting practice without paying a fee or being locked out completely.

Most of the coaches of the local travel teams are okay with paying the fees because this means that the field is reserved and should be ready at the time it was reserved. One coach said that he has continually run into the issue of paying the fee and the field not being ready to use when his team showed up. Some present argued that paying the fee should only reserve the field. With limited employees and so much area to cover the Parks Department can’t guarantee that they can make it to dress the fields, especially on limited notice. It was suggested that if someone wants the field to be prepped, they should pay a higher fee or do the work themselves.

The most consistent suggestion was to take a look at revamping the fee system, and for everyone to get along. It was also suggested that citizens who are having issues contact someone on the commission rather than wait until the issue is out of hand.

With no resolution or end to the discussion in sight, the Parks Commission adjourned until Monday, August 5, at 6 p.m.