Parks and Rec. Commission develops new director position description

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The county is one step closer to hiring a director of parks and recreation after the Parks and Recreation Commission developed a job description for the position at their meeting last Wednesday.

The group worked with two job descriptions that were created by county staff with assistance from Tom O’Rourke, executive director of the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission.

According to a funding summary distributed at the meeting, the salary would be approximately $67,000 with $22,000 in benefits.

The funds were collected from a “reallocation of franchising fees” that provided $61,900, combined with an “unencumbered” $27,907.

At a previous meeting, Dorchester County Councilman Jay Byars, who is the chairman of the commission, said the county eliminated two previously unused positions and put the salaries allocated for those toward the new position.

Councilman Byars kept his comments to a minimum during the meeting to ensure the thoughts of the commission were heard.

“Really the decision is up to y’all,” he said.

Group members discussed their hopes for the new director at length in the context of their goals for the future of county parks: to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and to eventually function similarly to Charleston County Parks and Recreation.

“[The new director will] have to have vision, have to work with Council, work with the commission. We want someone to help. We want them to be full time, we’re only part time,” said Danny Garnette, commission member.

Mike Montei, another member, agreed: “In my opinion we need to find a person and then let things develop. Right now we don’t have anyone devoted to [county parks and recreation] even remotely.”

Summerville Parks Manager Doyle Best was present at the meeting to help offer perspective and guidance, Councilman Byars said.

Despite some of the commission’s concerns about the amount of uncertainty with the new director’s duties, Best called the opportunity “exciting” and said “the opportunity you have here, to build something from the ground up, is not out there.”

He admitted the job would not be without challenges though.

During the course of the conversation, the group talked at length about their future involvements with community sports groups, using the Town as an example.

Although the Town is not involved with organizing or running any local sports clubs, they have partnered with the clubs to provide the facilities for their activities.

“It’s a great system right now, but you’re going to run into a problem with volunteer burnout,” Best said. “Once the volunteers don’t want to be involved anymore will you be able to step up and take over? I’m preparing our department to take over because I can see the writing on the wall.”

Councilman Byars echoed the same concern: “I’ve been contacted by a whole lot of [sports clubs] who are screaming for help. They can’t do the field maintenance anymore. … I think what people are asking for is help with organizing, like registration, and getting facilities that are maintained and safe.”

The scenario was just one example of the potential scope of the future director’s role. The group agreed the new hire will be the “face” of county parks.

Their final draft of the job description includes a public relations element, in which the director would be expected to interact with the public and news media, as well as political responsibilities like staying abreast of environmental policy changes and creating intergovernmental collaborations.

The commission is recommending their final job description to Dorchester County Council, at which point Council may decide to move forward with the hiring process.

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