Sumiton Park and Rec Board approved in called meeting Friday

Five people already picked to serve; board will have input on sports complex

Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 7/24/21

SUMITON - The Sumiton City Council met in special session on Friday to approve a new Sumiton Park and Recreation Board. 

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Sumiton Park and Rec Board approved in called meeting Friday

Five people already picked to serve; board will have input on sports complex

UPDATED 4:05 p.m. 7/23/21 - Updated with action from surprise called meeting on Friday that adopted park board resolution. 

SUMITON - The Sumiton City Council met in special session on Friday to unanimously approve a new Sumiton Park and Recreation Board. 

City Clerk Nina Absher told the Daily Mountain Eagle about the called meeting and the action Friday afternoon in a phone call, after the meeting was held. She said a mistake was made in lack of notification. 

The called meeting was held as the council got approval for a proposed resolution following a legal review. It was indicated by Sumiton Mayor Petey Ellis at Tuesday's council meeting that the resolution would  be ready to be addressed at the next regular meeting on Aug. 3.

Absher said officials also decided it would be best to expedite the approval as practice is already underway. 

Ellis could not be reached for comment Friday by press time. 

A copy of the resolution Absher sent to the Eagle shows the board will advise the mayor and council on "the planning, construction, land acquisition, operating and maintenance, and organized and coordinated activities and other issues related to the parks in the City of Sumiton." 

Five members will be appointed by the mayor, with the consent of the council. Members "shall live, work  or have significant interest in parks and recreation opportunities in the City of Sumiton. Members shall be registered voters. Members shall receive no compensation." They will also abide by the Alabama Public Meeting Laws and the Parks and Recreation Board Bylaws." 

The bylaws, which are attached, said the responsibilities will be to advise the mayor and council on park and recreation matters, to support the development of a master plan and upgrades as necessary, to be the city's "ambassadors" in developing and promoting park and rec activities, to be a "facilitator for community forums that serve as a catalyst for the promotion and development of park and recreation activities," to encourage building partnerships and coordination with other local, regional or state organizations that could enhance park and rec opportunities for the city, and to respond to additional park and rec matters as requested by the mayor and council. 

Monthly meetings will be held. Any member missing three consecutive meetings will be considered for removal, which could result in the board presenting a written recommendation to the mayor for action. 

Absher said Friday it was pointed out during the called meeting the park board members will also have to sign a code of conduct pledge that coaches and officials also have to sign. 

At Tuesday's meeting, Ellis said approving the resolution will be "a formality," and he urged the members already picked to start doing organizational work. 

After the meeting, Ellis said, the initial terms are not expected to be staggered. The members are expected to represent various sports played in organized sports in the city. 

Members of the new board were expected to be at Tuesday's meeting, but only a couple were able to attend. Others are expected to be at the next meeting. 

Ellis indicated that an advisory park and rec board was particularly needed initially to advise the council as it embarks  to look at a new sports complex

"This is a really big deal and I want the whole community involved in it, especially the people at this table," Ellis said.

That facility has had initial cost estimates ranging from $1.8 to $2.9 million. 

City officials have recently discussed developing a complex as a way to bring more tournaments to the city. 

At Tuesdays meeting, Ellis said Sumiton's prior park boards have traditionally done little, but he said the proposed park board members are all involved in each of the city's sports programs.

"I think we have people who are willing and able to help us and move forward with what we are trying to do," he said.

Park Director Doug Ragsdale said, "I'm looking forward to working with these guys. We have five good board members." 

The proposed members are Andy Frazier, the pastor of Grace Baptist Church; Matt Diffy, who coaches softball; Bobby Holt, who works for Canterbury United Methodist Church and who has been involved in the park program in several sports; Rebecca Rhodes, who has a design shop; and Niki Hubbard, the cheerleading coordinator. 

Rhodes and Holt were present for Tuesday's meeting. 

Park day for children set for July 31

In other park and recreation news, Sumiton park and recreation employee Roger Williamson noted that July 31 a park day will be held for children at the football complex. All sports participants are being invited. A water slide and a bouncy house are expected to be offered. 

On Sunday, Dora High School head football coach Chavis Williams will put on a coaching clinic at 2 p.m. at Dora High School. The next week, on Aug. 1, a clinic on sports injuries will be held for coaches. 

About five more background checks still need to be done as coaches keep being added. There will be a limit of four coaches per team. They will also be required to sign a code of conduct. 

Also, Councilman Micah Harrison asked where city officials were in getting new playground equipment. More information is being obtained, officials said, and they discussed the range of cost, which can range from $10,000 to $100,000. One package with swings and slides, had a turn key cost of $56,000. The playground would likely be at the old big field, in the right corner near the track and the back pavilion, in the right field area. Councilman Kenneth Russell said that would be a good level site, and officials said parking can be set up.