The first meeting of the Fayette County Park District (FCPD) Board will be held Wednesday as the three newly-appointed members seek to organize its efforts.
Back in September, discussion about establishing a parks and recreation district within the county began to gain momentum, with a crowd of about 60 county residents and leaders meeting at the Fayette County Extension Office.
After the overwhelming support in favor, the commissioners allowed the community another time-frame to voice opinions before they decided in late September to vote unanimously to pursue an application to establish a parks and recreation district for the county.
“We had the public meeting on September 6 and we had, at least from my notes, 22 different people speak out that evening,” Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean said. “All were in favor, and we also had two entities speak in favor. The board of developmental disabilities director spoke and Leigh Cannon, from the health department, also came out to speak. In lieu of public support at that meeting, I think that is enough evidence for this office to advance the application to the probate judge.”
Dean then made a formal motion introducing the resolution, one created with help from the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office.
Later in October, Fayette County Probate Judge David Bender held a hearing and also received positive feedback on the creation of the district. Bender decided following the hearing that the district was conducive to the health and general welfare of the public. It was then up to him to appoint three members to a board who will oversee the operations and goals of the FCPD.
“We had an individual from Ross County who was part of their park district for 22 years and he talked about the advantages of it and how they leveraged their funds as far as getting their grant money,” Bender said. “He also spoke about the health, economic benefits, the businesses they brought in and the healthier people. I also heard from Greene County’s general manager of their park district who talked about it, but otherwise it was pretty much locals who spoke. I had nobody who spoke out against the creation of the district.”
The three board members chosen were Robert Pitakos, David Kiger and Angela Tackett, all of Washington Court House.
“I asked people if they were interested in being a part of this board to contact the court and apply,” Bender said. “We had 10 people who initially responded and I asked some local people that I know that are connected into various aspects. One works for the county, one works for the city. To review all of these applications they sent out another wave of questions they wanted these people specifically to answer. Nine of the 10 responded to that and then I had them make recommendations.”
All of these factors, including Bender’s personal knowledge of the applicants and recommendations from others, helped him to appoint the three members. When making the final decision, Bender said that he knew the city and county were both instrumental in creating the district.
Pitakos was chosen because of his longstanding reputation in the county in various roles, including dog warden and will serve three years on the board; Kiger was chosen because of his connections to the other villages in the county as he has represented Jeffersonville and Milledgeville as city solicitor, has been involved with many of the local municipalities and will serve two years on the board; and Tackett was selected because of her connection to many local organizations that Bender has had a chance to witness, and will serve for one year on the board.
“I wanted to get a wide variety of people,” Bender said. “I didn’t want three people who would have the same agenda. I wanted everyone to get different ideas and have unique input for a good diversity.”
The newly-formed Fayette County Park District will hold an organizational meeting Wednesday at noon, at 133 South Main St. in Washington C.H. in the fourth floor conference room. Interested parties are invited to attend.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy