Parks & rec director position remains uncertain

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The future of the parks and recreation director position for the city of Meridian remains uncertain.

At Tuesday's work session, city council members discussed the possibility of keeping the seat unfilled. Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas disagrees.

"In my opinion, we do need a parks and recreation director. Some people on the council don't agree with that. I think you need a director to be held accountable and to be responsible for full operations of the department," said Thomas.

The position has been vacant since June 1, 2018, after former director Kelvin McGruder was fired. Since then, three people have covered day-to-day operations, programs and maintenance.

Mayor Percy Bland introduced a potential candidate to the council last month, but he was rejected. Bland says he believes they can find some middle ground.

"Even though we disagree on that, the bottom line that I think they agree to whoever I put up, as long as they get a chance to communicate with them and they feel as if he or she is a good fit that they will move forward possibly with that in the future," said Bland.

Mayor Bland says some of the money that would go to the unfilled position has been used in other areas of the department. Councilman Thomas expects a decision sooner rather than later.

"Do we have enough money to put a parks and recreation director back in that position? Yes, because half of the year there's been no money spent on a director. Now could we get a person to accept the position is the question now?" asked Thomas.

The council didn't completely shut the door on the possibility of filling the vacancy. Many would accept a new director if the right candidate arises.

"Of course, they have to be trained; they have to be experienced. They've got to be able to handle the business and affairs of that department," said Thomas.