The Monticello City Council has taken what might be the first step in creating a parks and recreation department.

On Monday, June 28, the Council approved hiring a parks and recreation director, a new position that would oversee a parks and recreation department.

Currently, the city has a parks department that oversees the city’s parks, forestry operations, youth and adult athletic programs, and MontiArts. The recreation activities within the Monticello Community Center (MCC) are managed by Monticello Community Center staff, as are the rentals and scheduling of meeting rooms and gymnasium space within the center. MCC staff also oversees programs like the farmers market, Music on the Mississippi, Walk n’ Roll, and movies in the park.

City staff began looking at a consolidation of the two departments earlier in the year. A picture of the combined departments became more clear during a May 24 workshop.

With a department consolidation, an opportunity to increase coordinated planning, programming, staffing and funding would be created, according to city staff.

A community center operations manager and a parks operation manger would be created to work under the parks and recreation director. The parks superintendent position would be eliminated. The MCC director position was eliminated a year ago when COVID-19 brought to a halt the community center operations. that position will not be replaced.

City Administrator Rachel Leonard cautioned the Council that once it approved the parks and recreation director position, it would be difficult to go back to a department structure featuring a parks department and a community center department. 

“If you’re concerned about the creation of the department, you should resolve that first before hiring this position,” Leonard said.

The Council voted to move forward with posting a job description for the new position.

Mayor Lloyd Hilgart has said that a combined department is more streamlined and makes parks and the community center more connected.

Parks Superintendent Tom Pawelk has said that there have been walls up between parks and the community center for a long time, and a consolidation of departments gives the community something it has needed for a long time.

Leonard told the Monticello Times that a consolidation of departments would actually bring about budgetary cost savings if the two departments come together- potentially as much as $10,000.

A consolidation would preserve all existing staffing positions, city officials said.

The parks and recreation director will be posted internally to employees of the City of Monticello. 

If no internal candidate is identified, the search for a parks and recreation director could be expanded to include external candidates.

Editor

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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