History of the Parks & Recreation Department
The City of Streetsboro established a Parks and Recreation Board in 1969 as provided by section 755.14 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Board was designed to be five members, three appointed by the Mayor and two appointed by the School Board. The responsibilities were to equip, operate and maintain playgrounds, play fields, gymnasiums, public baths, swimming pools or recreation centers.
With no land and no staff, it was a proper beginning but slow to evolve. In 1972 approximately 90 acres of land, generally known today as City Park, was designated for public park use. In 1973, a .5 mill levy was passed and used as the basis for the Parks and Recreation budget. In 1976, the Director’s position was established and was to be filled by the Parks and Recreation Board. City Council authorized the sum of $1.00 per annum as a token salary. No one was identified as accepting the position.
In that same year, the .5 mill levy was renewed to provide for continued financial support. The Streetsboro Lions Club stepped forward in 1979 with a $1,161.00 donation to establish water services in City Park. The Lions Club also provided a picnic shelter for City Park during that same year. In the early 1980’s, $9,000 was accepted from the City to establish a Recreation Fund. During the same period, an application for a federal grant was submitted for 15.5 acres of land located in the southwest quadrant of City Park. In 1988, Steve Kolar was hired as the Park and Recreation Director.
A charter amendment in 1990 changed the manner in which appointments were made to the Parks and Recreation Board. As of this amendment, all five board members were to be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. During this same year the City and the Schools authorized a joint license agreement for playgrounds on school grounds.
In 1992, the Streetsboro City Charter Section 14.03 was amended providing for the Parks and Recreation Director to be appointed by City Council and responsible to the Mayor. It also provided for removal of the Director by ¾ majority of City Council. The Parks and Recreation Board would have responsibility only for part time personnel. Parks and Recreation employees were added to the pay ordinance, and appropriation adjustments were made for a Parks Capital Improvements budget.
1996 showed that $230,000 was allocated for a NatureWorks Grant for construction of a toilet shelter building, walkways, and two new ball fields all located in City Park.
A theatre fund was established to operate under the Parks and Recreation Department, and Michele Harmel was confirmed as the new Parks and Recreation Director. City Council approved all expenditures for Parks and Recreation as noted in an ordinance to award a $250.00 contract to Andrew Clark to direct the play “Peter Pan” during the summer of 1997.
In 1998 another ordinance was passed by City Council establishing the Parks and Recreation Department and its director. The director would be responsible to the Mayor, effectively abolishing the Parks and Recreation Board. The director’s salary increased from $22,250.00 to $27,450.00. In the fees and charges arena, City Council authorized a reduction in the Park Impact Fee from $500.00 to $200.00 for each new development, whether single family or a sub division development.
City Council approved several individual contracts in 2000 for swing dance, playtime partners, basketball coordinator, spring theatre, concerts in the parks, and youth craft classes. A grant application was submitted to the Ohio Arts Council to request budget assistance for these programs. In 2001, City Council authorized construction of an addition to the storage building in City Park.
In 2002, City Council established a new department called “The Department of Public Grounds and Facilities”. This department was to be responsible for maintaining City Buildings, Grounds, and Park Lands. The park maintenance staff, formerly operating under the Parks and Recreation Department, was moved to the Department of Public Grounds and Facilities. Approval was given by City Council in 2003 for the construction of the Skatepark located in City Park. Individual contracts were awarded for concrete construction and apparatus.
City Council took a major step in 2003 by establishing the “Citizens Committee for Public Recreational Land Use”, an advisory committee of the City. “The committee was charged to take steps (…within the authority of the law…) to assess lands presently owned by the City and in private ownership, to determine suitability for active and passive recreation by City residents, to consider applicable funding sources for the acquisition and development of such public recreation lands, including drainage, to assist Council in allocating City recreational funds and funding sources, and to recommend to Council any other aspect of land use it deems appropriate and beneficial to the residents of the City.” Seven members were appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council.
In 2005, three properties were approved by City Council for option to buy, and then the authorization was reversed. The reversal of the decision was based on the desire to wait for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan to be completed which would help determine what lands should be purchased.
In January 2006, The Parks and Recreation Director and Senior Citizens Director positions were combined into one job. Elaine VanHoose was appointed as the new “combined” director. During the summer of 2006, City Council authorized a “Request for Proposal” for the development of a Master Plan for Parks and Recreation.