Originally created 09/25/00

Augusta Parks chief answers critics



Regarding Barbara Wise's Sept. 11 letter: Here is information to clarify questions and concerns about the operation of Hickman Park.

Last March the Augusta Commission approved a one-year agreement with the Academy of Youth Athletics, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of youth sports, to operate the recreation center at Hickman Park. This accord is consistent with several other cooperative agreements between non-profit groups and the Recreation and Parks Department to provide daily operational services at parks and recreation centers in Augusta.

Others approved by the commission include Jamestown Recreation Center (Sand Ridge Neighborhood Association), W.T. Johnson Center (30901 Development Corp.), Eastview Recreation Center (East Augusta Neighborhood Association), and Augusta Soccer Park (Arsenal Gunners Soccer Club).

These agreements, including Hickman Park, stipulate that Recreation and Parks maintain the building and grounds, while the non-profit provides resources to offer recreation programs and services. These organizations are, in essence, an extension of our staff, and are supervised and supported by our administrative team accordingly, including all training and safety programs offered by the department.

These agreements have two main objectives: To continue to offer quality services at recreation centers without the burden of personnel costs, and to promote volunteer organizations in their mission to serve our community. These agreements are major undertakings for these dedicated volunteers, and require a great commitment for each involved.

These one-year agreements must be renewed by the Augusta Commission. Any problems or inconsistencies with the performance of these organizations, as it relates to the operational agreement as outlined, will be given guidance and direction by Recreation and Parks for proper corrective action and these groups are expected to comply.

Any suggestions from the public to improve any operation in our park system, whether managed by our staff or volunteers, will be welcomed and appreciated.

As for Hickman Park, the Summerville Neighborhood Association was given first opportunity to operate the center, but declined. ...

Tom Beck Jr., Augusta

(Editor's note: The author is director of the Augusta Recreation and Parks Department.)