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From the Desk of Mayor Ken Wynn

It has come to mine and Council’s attention the discussion on Thursday night at the Business Council Meeting has led to misinformation. The River City News provided a light overview of discussion, and as always we appreciate their diligence in providing information to the public regarding City efforts, but this was just an overview of the discussion. 

We value all of our community members. Council, City staff, and I are working to better our parks and remedy some long-term issues that are a detriment to our parks and the City’s ability to improve and even sustain park service to the community. The discussions for park improvement began months ago when it was determined the park permitting process was flawed and creating liability issues for both the City and the many organized athletic teams who use the City Park fields. At this time it was also discovered the City of Ludlow Park Board ordinance was no longer valid. The City Council, staff, and I immediately went into action with research, discussions, and planning to reestablish a park board and correct any rules and procedures that weren’t following best practices. With the City not charging a Parks Tax, we would need to move forward with the creation of a Parks Advisory Board. It is important we represent all our community members with the new Parks Advisory Board. There will also be two City liaisons, the City Administrator and Public Works Project Manager, who will assist the new Advisory Board in visioning and planning. They will work to bring information to Council and I, and work on administrative planning to implement the changes the Board seeks. 

Per the request of Council, I created a committee consisting of two Council Members (Matt Williams and Jordan Scheid), Chief of Police (Scott Smith), Public Works Project Manager (Patrick Walkenhorst), City Administrator (Elishia Chamberlain), and a community member/Park Board member (Angie Doherty). Those selected were based on experience with park planning, parks management, and organized athletics management. The committee came together on June 15th to discuss findings and what should be brought to Council to discuss. Since this time there have been several discussions at Council Meetings where it has been attempted to determine which practices to pursue or not pursue. Many changes are dictated by necessity, but those which are not needed to be discussed amongst Council to finish drafting an ordinance. So far, it was determined by Council as suggested by the committee, there should be a 100% refundable deposit for shelter permitting for residents. For non-residents, there should be a $35 fee for shelter rental. This was a healthy discussion, and it is hoped this will encourage everyone to take care of the shelter when using it for events. 

This past Thursday evening the topic of fees for organized teams was proposed. This was not a fee for parents to pay directly to the City, but a fee that would be paid out of the money they already pay to their league/club/organization that is from the remainder of funds after equipment/uniforms/insurance/league fees are paid. The point was to discuss. For the City Administrator and City Attorney to work together to draft an ordinance we needed the particulars worked out. Council Members Jordan Scheid and Matt Williams proposed this option not as a demand, but as an option that several other NKY communities use. They asked Council to discuss to gauge whether or not this was an option Council felt would benefit the parks without harming the financial stability of the organizations which would pay. Mr. Scheid and Mr. Williams stated these funds would be restricted for use to improve the parks, specifically the fields. The other cities which collect these fees do so directly from the organizations receiving permits for games. The thought is these entities collect fees for play, uniforms, equipment, trophies, and for payment of tournament fields, but they don’t pay to use City fields. There is generally a small amount left over after these costs the organizations have, and this would be their contribution to assist in field maintenance. 

This was a discussion. The goal was to determine if this was worth pursuing and for differing opinions to be expressed. This was one of the last issues we needed to iron out before drafting the ordinance. It is unfortunate that what started out as a healthy discussion, with thoughtful insight from several Council Members supporting the fee and those not supporting, was turned into an unhealthy argument. Individuals chose to speak out of turn from the audience, and these same individuals can speak to their Council Members outside of meetings as well as during public comment. This creates discord cutting off discussions. There is a better way! I can speak for Council when I say, we want to do what is best for the community. It helps no one to start fighting without first listening, and causing the conversation to end. This just continues to prolong the effort to get systems in place. After discussion with Council, we have decided to not pursue the proposed field usage fee. 

Council Meetings are an opportunity for Council to discuss ideas and provide thoughtful reasons to support their ideas. Council Meetings are a time to plan and make positive changes. They should not be for individuals to further personal vendetta, create discord, and cause harm. That is a waste of time, effort, and tax dollars. Attend meetings. Listen. Ask questions with the intent of learning why something is being done. Offer suggestions or thoughtful reasoning for why you may disagree, during the time allotted, and attempt to work with your elected officials instead of against them or by pitting them against one another. The constant fighting divides the community, it slows down positive changes that benefit everyone, and it wastes your own tax dollars. If everyone can focus on the one thing we have in common, we all want this City to be the best version of itself and stay that way for years to come, and let this lead all discussions we can learn to work together. We can learn humility that maybe we aren’t always right. We can learn that it’s okay to listen and learn and find that there is another or a new way that may serve us all more. The other option is we continue to fight, we continue to struggle, and our community slowly dwindles and doesn’t last. 

Our community is on the precipice of great change. These changes will allow us to thrive for another twenty years. Change is difficult. Change requires everyone to give a little, but the return far outweighs what is given. If we all took time to listen, and be respectful, we may all find we get what we want in the end. The City was in a low point several years ago, and we had to start to change if we wanted to maintain our identity and remain a City. There is a lot more work to be done, and it’s going to take all of us working together. Right now we want our parks to be better. We want our fields to be better. We want them to be wonderful places for teams to play, kids to run, families to gather, the community to gather. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Posted in: Community