Park and Recreation Commission frustrated by lack of communication from Meck. County staff on upcoming projects

The vice chair of the commission voiced his concerns during a special meeting on Friday.
Meck. County Commissioners and the Parks and Recreation Commission say they aren't getting information they need about proposed projects.
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 8:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County commissioners and the Park and Recreation Commission say they aren’t getting the information they need about proposed projects and are instead finding out about them in the press.

A special meeting was held Friday to discuss the bylaws of the Park and Recreation Commission (PRC) and to determine its role in the county.

The PRC is made up of volunteers serving as a liaison between the Park and Recreation Department and the Board of County Commissioners.

Those volunteers say they are not getting the information they need from the county to do their job.

“We’re supposed to go in front of y’all and tell y’all stuff, and we haven’t got a clue,” Kip Kaiser, Vice Chair of the Park and Recreation Commission, told commissioners during the meeting.

Kaiser told county commissioners he can’t advise them on projects like the upcoming Capital Improvement Program.

“I haven’t got a damn clue what would be on there,” he said. “I have no idea, been told I can’t see it until some other A, B, C board sees it, don’t know who they are.”

That frustration is shared by commissioners who also feel left in the dark.

“This is America,” Commissioner Elaine Powell said. “We have this infrastructure for democracy to make sure we hear, because there’s no way we could know everything about every decision that comes to us without them.”

Our partners at Axios Charlotte recently reported on a 12-acre park in NoDa.

It was the first time commissioners like Elaine Powell and members of the PRC had ever heard about it.

“Being embarrassed by, you’re supposed to know this and we weren’t told,” Kaiser said.

Even Park and Recreation Director Lee Jones says he had limited information going into the community workshop about it.

“There would have to be an environmental assessment,” Jones said. “I don’t know what was there. We’d have to look in the playbook to see if that’s where a park is needed.”

This meeting is the first step in clarifying the role of the PRC, to ensure they’re given the information they ask for.

“Trying to shore up what is the content and how it’s written so everyone understands their respective lanes and roles and responsibilities,” Leslie Johnson, Deputy County Manager, said.

PRC members say they believe some county staff wants to share the information they ask for, but their hands are tied due to confidentiality and other red tape.

This was the first meeting to discuss this and there will be more to come before finalizing recommendations.

Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell suggested PRC members be given the opportunity to share anonymous feedback and recommendations to the county.

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