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Mayor Breaks Tie to Dissolve Dayton Park Board

This article has been updated to correct the original headline and statement that the park board had been resolved. RCN regrets the error and mischaracterization.

The City of Dayton made significant changes to its park board last week after a tie vote was broken by the mayor.

“The citizens don’t have any say,” Mandy Metz, a former park board member, said, arguing against the change. “There’s no one to go against (the mayor).”

City Administrator Michael Giffen originally looked into removing the board after a series of events earlier this year led to the city already becoming more directly involved with the parks.

“We had some issues in the spring and summer that we tried to address,” Giffen said. “We took back over the maintenance. We already doing most of the day-to-day.”

Mayor Virgil Boruske also mentioned that there was a basketball tournament held in one of the parks despite several city officials asking the board to cancel it due to various safety concerns. The tournament ended with several people having weapons in the park and surrounding city police departments arriving to help settle the situation and clear the area.

Giffen said that the ordinance, as adopted, transfers the day-to-day maintenance and control of the parks and playgrounds to the city. That means that the approval of permits, signage, and hours will be handled by city administration rather than by the park board.

The park board will still exist with its current members and will advise city staff and council on programs and projects, Giffen said.

But Metz also raised concerns over the parks going to city control and becoming part of the public works department.

However, both the city administrator and mayor said that the parks were already under the control of public works because the former park director had mismanaged the parks and the city had yet to hire a replacement.

Giffen also worried that the board wasn’t giving each park the necessary attention.

“There’s multiple parks and a lot of the investment was going into Gil Lynn Park,” Giffin said. “My theory is that we need to look at it more holistically.”

Some on council favored the park board staying in place, though.

“I voted against it because I want to see more civic involvement and I want to see more volunteers in the city and not to give all of the control to one person,” Councilman Ben Baker said.

Metz also added that over the course of the last year, the mayor had only attended three meetings of the park board and that council members had attended even fewer, saying that if they had a problem with the board before, they should have been more involved sooner.

Councilman Joe Neary, who also voted against the change, said, “It’s like demolition by neglect,” and that he didn’t agree with the updates at all.

Both Neary and Councilman Jeff Volter said they would like to see a hybrid of the old ordinance and the updated version, so that the board stays in place but the city is more involved.

“I would just like to see it be more of a team effort I guess,” Volter said, adding that everyone can have bias so it’s good to have a varied background.

Baker, Neary, and Volter voted against the change while council members Bill Burns, Denny Lynn, and Jeff Haas supported it. In the event of a 3-3 tie in Dayton, Mayor Boruske gets to break it, and voted to abolish the park board.

With the updated ordinance, all matters concerning the parks, including maintenance and reserving spaces at the parks, will now run through Dayton’s city building. Any changes or spending related to the parks will have to be approved by the city council.

Dayton's parks include Gil Lynn Park, Clark Street Park, Sargeant Park, Vine Street Park, and the newly named Jamestown Pike Park, a reference to the city's original name and oldest street in Campbell County.

Written by Carrie Crotzer, RCN contributor