After a brief but heated scrap, Park District commissioners decided last week not to change a policy that limits the number of people the district will send to the National Recreation and Park Association annual convention.
Last year the park board adopted a policy that the district would pay for the president or his designee to attend the national convention, along with the executive director or his designee. That policy was upheld during the board’s meeting on June 21.
But new park board Vice President Roy Sansone wants to attend, even though board president Howard “Bud” Boy is planning to go.
At Thursday night’s meeting, former park board vice president Cathleen McDermott objected to the board paying the approximately $1,800 for Sansone to attend the national convention this year, which will held in September in Indianapolis. Sansone, who chaired Thursday’s meeting because Boy was out of town, asked the board to change the policy and pay for more people to attend the convention.
Sansone asked that the policy be changed so that any employee or commissioner that wanted to attend the convention could do so on the district’s dime.
“I don’t think we should put a restriction on educating our commissioners and our staff,” Sansone said. “If there is an opportunity for a commissioner to go I don’t think it should be restricted.”
But McDermott argued that to pay for more than two people to attend the national convention would be a waste of money. Further, McDermott accused Sansone of violating board policy when he asked Executive Director Larry Piekarz to make a hotel reservation for him in Indianapolis.
“I don’t think it would be prudent for any more people to go,” McDermott said. “There is no business need to go.”
McDermott argued that commissioners can attend the state convention and that there was little more to be gained by commissioners attending the national convention.
“It’s nothing more than a perk,” said McDermott. “It’s a huge perk.”
Newly elected board member Sam Alonzo effectively decided the issue when he sided with McDermott.
“If the state and national (conventions) are the same I don’t see the need,” Alonzo said. “For now, with all the stuff going on we should maintain the policy and review it next year.”
The board took no action so the district will not pay for Sansone to attend the convention. Boy is planning to attend the convention with the park district’s new superintendent of recreation, Erin Parchert.