Rec board considers maintenance

STEUBENVILLE – The city parks and recreation board will consider a proposal from the Steubenville High School athletic department that would see the school maintain the Jim Wood softball and soccer field in exchange for a usage agreement.

Councilman at large Kenny Davis announced the proposal during the two-hour recreation board meeting Wednesday night.

“They will use their own equipment and supply the materials needed to maintain the fields year round at their own expense. They also understand the city will still own the fields and if the school teams aren’t using those fields, anyone else can be on the fields. To me this is a no-brainer,” said Davis, who also serves as chairman of council’s recreation committee.

Davis said he will arrange a meeting with the high school coaches, City Manager Tim Boland, Mayor Domenick Mucci, the recreation committee and recreation board Chairperson Sandi Rue within the next two weeks to discuss the details of the proposal.

“I think we are looking at an agreement similar to the one we have with the two nonprofit organizations that operated and managed the Belleview Pool last year and are planning to do again this summer,” said Davis.

“I said six years ago when I sat on the recreation board we had to get more community involvement. We need to reach out to the community groups who want to help us,” Davis added.

“A lot of cities are turning to operation-use agreements. You are right on track with the nonexclusivity agreement,” remarked Boland.

“We are not trying to take work away from our employees. But they are overworked. If we can take one field from the city employees’ maintenance schedule it will help them. And I would not be surprised if the high school athletic department asks for a similar agreement for their baseball team and Murphy Field,” remarked Davis.

“Tonight is a prime example of why we need to look at ideas for our recreation department. You are hearing a commitment from City Council and the administration. We are behind you,” Mucci told the recreation board members.

In other business Wednesday night, the board heard a lengthy update report from Mucci who asked the board members to prepare to hire a recreation director or coordinator.

“We have a temporary budget in place that has funding for a full-time director. And I believe we need a director,” said Mucci.

“We spent 2013 putting out brush fires. Now we can move ahead with a director and put more emphasis on recreation in the city,” said Rue.

Mucci announced he recalled three part-time recreation aides to work at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center earlier this month, and the board approved a new operating schedule for the MLK Center that will see the facility open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

The board approved several facility requests and placed several others on hold.

Board members approved the Martin Luther King Association to use the MLK Center Saturday for a Martin Luther King Youth Celebration and Monday for a commemorative march as well as;

– Life Line Screening was approved for Feb. 10 for the MLK Center.

– Steubenville High School boys baseball at Murphy Field from Feb. 21 through May 17.

– Steubenville High School tennis team at the Belleview Park tennis courts after coordinating schedules with the Franciscan University of Steubenville tennis teams.

The board tabled requests from the Steubenville High School softball team for Jim Wood ballfield, the Steubenville High School boys and girls soccer teams for the Jim Wood soccer fields and three requests from the Steubenville girls softball association until the February board meeting.

Board members agreed to re-implement a policy requiring individuals or organizations requesting to reserve a ballfield to attend the recreation board meeting to answer questions and discuss details of the event.

And the board thanked Mucci for coordinating the recreation department during his seven-month role as acting city manager.

Mucci thanked Davis and Rue for stepping up and volunteering time to maintain recreation activities during 2013.