Bexley News

Bexley Recreation and Parks

City mulls new sports fields, staff changes


Developing new athletic fields and exploring the possibility of adding a new staff member are among the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department's goals for the next 12 months.

"This is big picture," said Bexley City Council member Lori Ann Feibel, who chairs council's Recreation Committee. "Some of those things are tangible things that we can really put our boots on the ground and really make happen."

Feibel, department staff and Recreation Board members discussed the goals at the board's Aug. 6 meeting at Jeffrey Mansion. The board voted unanimously to authorize Feibel to present the goals at a future city council meeting.

Feibel said council decided at a retreat earlier this year that members should establish a set of goals for each of the committees they chair. Feibel and Recreation Director Michael Price met recently to review goals he has set for the department and agreed the board should approve the goals before she presents them to council.

"Council wants to see that we're thinking and being creative and moving in a forward direction," she said.

Price said one of the department's goals is to hire an additional recreation supervisor. The supervisor would assist with long-range planning and help alleviate overburdening of staff who already carry a hefty workload, Price said.

He estimated the annual salary of a recreation supervisor at a maximum of $63,000, depending on the candidate's experience and benefits package. He said the department and board will have to convince council that the cost of an additional staff member will pay off.

"The city is going to be very leery of taking on another staff member," he said.

Another staffing issue is the potential of making four preschool teachers full-time employees and providing them with health insurance for the 2015-16 school year, which will be necessary if provisions in the Affordable Care Act go into effect next year, Price said.

Another option, he added, would be to reduce the teachers' time to less than 40 hours a week, which would make it difficult for the preschool program to retain qualified teachers with college degrees.

"If we cut back their hours," he said, "they're not going to work for 30 hours for nine months of the year."

The department will prepare a cost analysis before presenting the issue to council, Price said.

One of the department's goals that will not require additional city funding, Price said, is developing new athletic fields in south Bexley in the Ferndale Place and Miller Avenue area, near the city's Community Garden. The area can accommodate three to four small fields for soccer, lacrosse and other sports, he said.

"This is an area that the city has indicated they really want to put more resources and time into improving," Price said. "Adding parking, adding lights and encouraging people to be there, I think, is a positive thing."

Developing the fields would not affect the Community Garden and could be completed by fall 2015, Price said.

The department will prepare a cost analysis for the project, which could be completed with existing Recreation and Parks funds allotted by city council, he added.