Full-time parks and recreation director hired

Jane Beathard Staff Writer

December 21, 2013

The City of London will employ a full-time parks and recreation director on Jan. 1, following action by city council at its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 19.

Following months of friction with safety-services director Steve Hume over funding for parks, the pool and the London Community Center, council members voted 6 to 1 to repeal a 2012 ordinance which cut the recreation director’s job to part-time. Dick Minner cast the only “no” vote on Thursday.

A citywide budget squeeze in 2012 forced a cut-back in the parks and recreation department, reducing the director’s position to part time. Former teacher Ben McCoy stepped into the part-time job last spring after Ryan Ladd accepted a position in northern Ohio.

A city income tax increase, approved by voters in May, provided enough money for a full-time recreation director, beginning Jan. 1. Earlier this month, council balked at Hume’s emergency request to move that date up two weeks and allow McCoy to work full-time during the sign-up period for youth basketball leagues.

Acting council president Pat Closser said the group was surprised by the request and needed more time to discuss the issue. Closser also asked about posting the job for applicants beyond McCoy.

On Thursday, Mayor Dave Eades reminded council that Hume first alerted the group to the need for a full-time recreation director in August. Hume told council on Aug. 15 the city needed a full-time recreation director by (youth) basketball season.

“Council seemed to forget it,” Eades said.

In addition, member Rex Castle said a check with law director Zahid Siddiqi found Hume could retain McCoy in the slot without posting the job.

“The law director said it is not necessary,” Castle said.

McCoy said youth basketball sign-ups are running 67 percent ahead of last year, generating more revenue for London Community Center operations. Repairs and upgrades to the Walnut Street facility stress city finances.

In other meeting action on Thursday, council:

• Established a $75 non-refundable filing fee for applications to vacate or re-name an alley or street.

• Adjusted the wages of non-union police and fire employees to match those of union employees. Wages of police and fire chiefs are not included.

• Amended the zoning code to streamline annexation of land into the city. New language allows the planning commission to avoid special meetings when determining the classification of property considered for annexation.