Although it seems to be what everyone is talking about, the elections on June 10th will decide more than just the Mayor’s seat. The school board seats and the Parks and Recreation are also two areas that deserve your time and consideration. I was asked if I would do the same thing (forum of questions from our readers) and I agreed because, well why not? I talk all the time about making this area a place where families will want to settle down, not just a place to exists for a little while. In fact I believe that is the key to making Williston great not just now, but ensuring it’s success for years to come. Families. This is why the school board seats and the Parks and Rec District Seats are important.
I attempted to reach out to all candidates. Some responded quickly and a few never answered back. They certainly are under no obligation to participate however I (and the readers asking the questions) definitely appreciate their time.
1. What are the plans for the Raymond center and the Hagan pool?
ZACH FLECK: The Raymond Center will close for the summer due to low usage and will only open for special events. This fall it will open back up and continue normal operations, with modified hours. There has not been any talk of sale or major modification of the building at this point, and it is not in the master plan for the Parks District. As for Hagan pool, the building is in such a state of disrepair that it will likely be closed in favor of newer and safer facilities.
GREGORY COTTRELL: At this point I don’t know of any immediate plans for the Raymond Center that the board has acted on. And as for the Hagan pool, I am told it is a complete loss and will not be fixed at this time. It was also mentioned in the April P&R meeting that the high school swim team will use the rec center for practice and events.
JEFF LARSON: The Raymond Center still remains a vital part of our district. The ice rink and basketball courts and the arena for community events are vital for our community. We have made over $800,000 in improvements in the Raymond Center in the last two years. We plan to continue to improve this facility; some of the items we are looking at in our plan are replacing the bleachers and upgrading the sound system in the arena and making upgrades to the locker rooms. The hours will be shortened in the summer now that the ARC is open but as school starts, hours and program use will increase. As far as the Hagen Indoor Pool, that is owned by Williston Public School District # 1 and I am not sure of their plans.
MIKE OWENS: The Raymond center will remain open, but on a reduced schedule. Not real sure about the Hagen pool. I think it will remain closed.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: I think we have some facilities that we need to find a way to repurpose and utilize to benefit our community. They have a place and purpose, what it will be specifically we will have to see.
2. How will you meet staffing challenges in this economy?
ZACH FLECK: With the exception of finding a qualified HR director, there has not been a real challenge with staffing. People are very excited to be able to work in the ARC. Also, the staff has done a very good job of getting creative when it comes to housing to make it work. If staffing does become an issue in the future, then I will happily take an active role in finding a solution.
GREGORY COTTRELL: That was one of my concerns and reasons I wanted to join the board. I think we are being reactive rather than proactive. The ARC doesn’t have a HR person in place and they “talked” about addressing the concern in the April meeting. By the end of the meeting they agreed to look into a “head hunter” to fill this position as they hadn’t received any truly exceptional candidates. First we need to work with a staffing agency to address our concerns for the staff we need in place now. Then we must continue to seek out prospects from the universities right here in ND for positions we will need in the future.
JEFF LARSON: Staff has been a challenge but our Executive Director has done a phenomenal job. He hired 28 new full time staff prior to opening the ARC and many part time staff has been hired to fill in the voids. I believe our Director has created a positive working environment and he has also shown that he cares about his employee’s.
MIKE OWENS: The best way to keep staff is, adequate pay and benefits. Treat them with respect.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: Try to find the best individuals that keep our standards high. It’s a situation we need to stay on top of. Finding the best possible people that help maintain that level of excellence we want.
3. How can we make access to park and rec amenities for those without much income?
ZACH FLECK: I would be fully in favor of looking into the possibility of a grant or subsidy so that low-income individuals and families have the same level of access to Parks and Recreation facilities as everyone else. As the budgeting process begins for the next fiscal year, we will be better able to evaluate what kind of a position the district is in to provide an initiative like that. In the meantime, I would welcome your opinion on what kinds of assistance might be appropriate for the situation.
GREGORY COTTRELL: I believe that we need to work with the city & state government to find programs that help those with lower incomes in our community. Everyone deserves access to this great facility!
JEFF LARSON: The district currently does everything they can to make programs/facilities as low cost as possible. We do have scholarships that help people who are in need. People can talk to staff about the application process.
MIKE OWENS: In my opinion there should be some sort of application process they could fill out to prove their situation.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: We could possibly work on creative ways that could benefit families that might not have the means. For example, a service hours platform for decreased membership and keep an eye on it.
4. Will the non-profit organization, Williston Sea Lions, have access to the swimming pool for a reasonable cost? Now that the other pool won’t be in use the Williston Sea Lions need a new place to swim.
ZACK FLECK: Yes. The Sea Lions looked at rent costs for comparable use of facilities in other cities in North Dakota and the ARC came in below each one of them. The Sea Lions are paying $15,000 for use dedicated use of the pool facilities during certain hours, which will be reviewed next year. The next closest city in terms of rent for their swim club was Grand Forks at $25,000.
GREGORY COTTRELL: At the April meeting the Sea Lions requested access to the ARC for the program. The ARC offered to help lower the costs to $15k for the entire program. My concern with this is why do we need to charge them? This is a non-profit group trying to offer the education of swimming to those that one day may join the swim team right here in town, and then someday become those life guards who we depend on to protect those patrons of our Williston pools. My vote would have been to waive the fees to the group and ask that they swim in off-hour times that wouldn’t disrupt the community time and high school swimming times. If that wouldn’t work then we could revert back to the community rate. At least they would’ve been presented with an option and the possibility to use the facility without a cost.
JEFF LARSON: The WPRD and the Sea Lions signed an agreement at the April park board meeting and they have begun practicing for their long course season at the ARC.
MIKE OWENS: I wouldn’t think the fees for the non-profits (sea lions) would increase.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: Now that the other pool won’t be in use the Williston Sea Lions need a new place to swim.
5. Why are after hour preferences currently being given to the high school and college swim teams at the rec center pool? Many of us who work during the day would much prefer to lap swim at night and on the weekends would like those times. Why can’t the swim teams take times during the day?
ZACH FLECK: I think that in the summer you may see them move more into the middle of the day so that we can allow for more people to use the pools. During the school year the high school and college can’t take time during the day unfortunately because they would miss class.
GREGORY COTTRELL: I was not pleased with the response that was provided by the council when I asked this same question. Basically, a paying community member has less rights and options than the swim team and Sea Lions do for the use of the pool. They offered the use of the 4 lane pool for lap swimming during those times but would only reserve 2 of the lanes for lap swimming and the other two for multi-use. Having been a swimmer in high school I know what access to a pool means to my training. However, my concern now is that if I wanted to go swim in the evenings after work, I’m going to be in a really crowded lane if I’m lucky enough to swim at all. We need to adjust this so the school gets some use but the paying members have equal rights for use as well. Additionally, the district is building a new school and we vote on June 10th to say yes or no to a 56 million dollar project. The concern I have is that they no longer see a need for a pool on the school’s campus now that P&R has a deal in place for them to use the one the community built.
JEFF LARSON: First off, the college does not have a swim team. The Sea Lions and HS coaches have jobs during the day so practicing for these teams has to start after 5:00PM. Staff has and will continue to juggle the pool schedules to accommodate as many people as the can daily. Lap swim is also available in the teaching pool during open swim hours.
MIKE OWENS: The best way to change a scheduling conflict is to bring it up to the Rec. Coordinator. then Rec. Superintendent.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: I think in this initial time there are a lot of questions and scheduling that will be in flux and need to be worked out. Finding the best solution takes a moment to get worked out. As we enter different seasons and see usage,we can make better decisions.
6. Will the outdoor pool open this year?
ZACH FLECK: Unfortunately no. There is a major leak in the pool, which may have created some sort of a large void underneath. This makes the pool unsafe for people to be in. Additionally, the bath house is not ADA compliant and is unsound and not safe for multiple reasons. Even if they were to start the repairs to the building now, they would not be finished in time to open this year. The Park Board has stated that they will listen to public input as to options for the future of the pool.
GREGORY COTTRELL: With the concerns of running water 24/7 last year just to keep the water levels up, I don’t expect to see it open. The board asked a group to look at the grounds, building, and pool and asses the property. They concluded that the leak would be very hard to find and that with that much water being lost damage may have occurred to the grounds and be unsafe. Ask yourself this, with all the sink holes in the news these days do we really need to risk the safety of our family in that pool? We need to address this concern and make sure we still have an outside pool for this community.
JEFF LARSON: The outdoor pool will not be opened this summer. After evaluations by several groups the pool is unsafe and has lived past its life expectancy. The board voted this past Tuesday to evaluate our options, come up with a plan that would fit into our future budget and also take into consideration input from the community. I believe a splash pad at Harmon Park is the right fit for our current situation, the initial costs are lower, maintenance costs are lower and it requires no life guards. A new outdoor pool is in the long term plan for the district and we should maybe look at moving that up on the priority list and build it in the next couple years.
MIKE OWENS: The outdoor pool will not open this summer due to water leaks and safety issues.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: To my knowledge no.
7. If I understand correctly the recent friction at the park district was caused by the failure to obtain a properly signed contract between the college and the park district as it relates to the use of the ARC. This appears to have resulted in a loss of state funding from North Dakota. How much funding was lost? Can it be restored in the next legislative session? Has a proper contract now been signed? Can the personnel issues caused by this misstep be resolved?
ZACH FLECK: The ARC did not lose funding from the state. At the heart of the issue there was a miscommunication between WSC and the ARC over what portion of the ARC’s utilities WSC was going to pay. A contract is now in place, and we will not know how the budget is affected until a couple quarters pass. The turmoil that this issue caused has resulted in very low employee morale, which the Park board took a step forward in addressing with their apology at the May 20th meeting.
GREGORY COTTRELL: It isn’t clear at this time exactly what will happen. This could result in a loss, breaking even, or a gain. The utility bills have not been compiled for the year (as a year has not passed from the time of opening). This was the statement provided during the May P&R meeting. That’s a budgetary discussion that will need to take place next year. Yes. (Has a proper contract been signed?) As of this April it was announced that an agreement was reached. I believe with good lines of communication we can try to work in a positive manor toward rebuilding the trust between the community, personnel, and the board. Unfortunately a cookie cutter fix doesn’t apply to a situation like this. The board will need to take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again. They have made a few strides by adding legal counsel to the meetings and recording any meetings as required by the ND law.
JEFF LARSON: We will not know if any funding was lost until we start getting utility bills for the ARC. I have faith that our Executive Director will work with managing the budget to do the best to overcome any shortfalls due to this situation. The board has negotiated a contract with WSC for the remainder of the biennium and we will go to the legislature with WSC to secure funding in the next budget cycle. In my opinion there were several mistakes made in negotiations of this contract and blame cannot be placed on one person. The mistakes have been resolved and we are moving forward.
MIKE OWENS: The recent friction within the park district was caused by not getting a signed contract from the college. As far as the funding, there hasn’t been an exact number released that I’m aware of. This is not a legislative issue. There has been a contract signed and the personnel issues will work themselves out.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
8. More North Dakota communities are following a national trend of going tobacco-free in their public parks. Tobacco-free parks are cleaner, greener and safer places for families to enjoy healthy recreation, and they set an example that will help keep the next generation free of all forms of tobacco. 10 cities in North Dakota currently have tobacco-free park policies. Would candidates support tobacco-free parks to further promote health, outdoor activity, and a clean environment for our children and pets?
ZACH FLECK: I am fully in favor of setting a good example for kids. I would be open to exploring this issue. My concern lies with infringing on personal freedoms, and with an already overburdened police force. I think that we can find a common-sense solution that will increase public awareness while not intruding too far into citizen’s individual decisions
GREGORY COTTRELL: Yes. I don’t see why this couldn’t happen to our parks right here in Williston.
JEFF LARSON: Our Executive Director is working with the local health unit on this project. As the ARC is on WSC property we are following their tobacco free policy.
MIKE OWENS: I do support tobacco free parks and recreation areas
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: I think this is a great question and would be worth a discussion. If we are promoting healthy lifestyle and choices, I could see a desire to lead this way.
9. What, if anything do you plan to of differently than the current board if elected?
ZACK FLECK: Well in the short-term I feel that increased transparency, communication, and a little common sense will go a long way to restoring the trust in the Parks District. As for longer term, I believe that we could expand on Parks programs in each season. I also believe that we can make it a point to increase communication and cooperation with the city so that we can better integrate parks into new development, and bring state and regional events to the area that would provide an economic boost to Williston for years to come.
GREGORY COTTRELL: I’ve said it before, I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. I think that the board exists to act in the best interest of the community. I want to do just that, and I look forward to making good decisions for the greater good of the community. We have a lot of great resources already in place for this town, and I want to ensure that as we continue to grow, we have the best of the best for our citizens.
JEFF LARSON: I believe the current board has had its ups and downs but it has always had the districts best interests at the top of the list. I would like to see the board be more transparent and I would like to see us take a back seat and advise as needed. The district has a great leader in Mr. Krueger and he has assembled a great staff around him. I would like to see the board let them do their jobs and not micro-manage them.
MIKE OWENS: The bulk of the current board have done a fantastic job. However, the few that took matters into their own hands, breaking the law, that’s unacceptable. If elected, I would be sure all rules and regulations would be followed.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
10. What will be your main focus or chief issue?
ZACK FLECK: I really have two:
• I feel that the ARC is a fantastic asset and can provide a unique economic boost to the city. The ARC is one of two facilities in the state that is capable of hosting a long-track swim meet, and one of three that is capable of holding a short-track meet. In addition to this, the ARC is capable of hosting premier indoor track events. If you add into this mix a softball tournament or two that Williston could potentially host, that is a lot more hotel rooms sold, more revenue in local restaurants and more money spent at local shops.
• The second issue that I would like to address is to ensure that as Williston continues to grow and develop, the parks system continues to grow as well. This includes new trails, parks, and sports complexes. We need to partner with developers to make sure that they are including usable parks and green space into their plans. In doing this the city will be better able to attract new families to come to Williston, see that there are great things going on and plenty of things to do, and ultimately choose to stay in Williston.
GREGORY COTTRELL: My main goal will be to ensure we have an outdoor pool for the community. With the current concerns the Eckert pool presents we need to set goals going forward to have a pool for the community that is outside. The second thing I will look to address will be adding more playgrounds as new developments are created. It’s important that we have places for families to go and enjoy themselves outdoors!
JEFF LARSON: My main focus will be following our mission statement, Superior parks, facilities and programs for all to enjoy an active life. I feel that making sure the residents have a better quality of life through recreation should be our number one goal on the park board. I will also work with the goal of our master plan to make sure every resident has a park within one mile of their home.
MIKE OWENS: With the 2 new developments coming North of town, I want to be sure the green space and parks are family friendly and safe.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: A few things that I can touch on in this question to answer a couple. I would like to explore green space for gatherings, addition of some soccer fields, increased addition of biking options in our community (longer trails, easier access around town), searching to find a good solution for an outdoor pool (believe it’s desired).
11. Any plans or ideas for more green space in the city? How about more bike trails/walking paths? Some of these areas could be used for wintertime cross country skiing perhaps. I’m not sure what authority the park board has but I would like to see a more pedestrian friendly town.
ZACK FLECK: This is one of the main things that the board needs to stay on top of. As the city grows we will continue to need more parks and green space. Bike trails and walking/jogging paths are included in that and must be taken into consideration when the developments are being proposed. It is all about communication between all of the parties involved.
GREGORY COTTRELL: As we continue to develop new areas in town I think it’s vital that the Parks department keep a watchful eye for good use areas for green space. I’m not looking for those end lots that are odd shaped that nobody is going to use at the end of a block. We need developers to create areas where families will want to go as part of the development. Harvest Hills is a prime example of what not to do. That area lacks a true quality green space. If it wasn’t for the Halliburton apartment area having a playground, I don’t think that area would have one yet. Regarding bike paths, I’m 100% behind this! We need a nice area either by the Little Muddy that goes a great distance without using the road to get between. I’d love to see something that connects the east & west sides of town as well! I’m not sure what authority the park board has but I would like to see a more pedestrian friendly town. We need planning and zoning to get a grip on this before it’s too late. The consideration for this seems almost too late. As we move forward this MUST be a bigger part of the consideration during development. A big step in the right direction will be the update they are giving Main Street this year. That’s just the first step towards many more projects they will need to do to get this town pedestrian friendly. I’m looking forward to seeing things like these added to the newer developments ahead of this town!
JEFF LARSON: I believe it is a challenge to put trails into infrastructure that already exists. But we are working very closely with the City of Williston to stay on the front end of the new developments and always looking at ways to expand our trails system.
MIKE OWENS: There will be more green space, more bike/walking paths and some of these areas could be used in the winter for cross country skiing.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
12. Will you, if elected to the board press the Williston police department to be available for security related calls at area parks or at least more of a presence. I know this might be a city commission issue. My wife tells me numerous examples of being at the wonderful parks and having men there for no reason other than to loiter and gawk at the little kids.
ZACK FLECK: This one is more of a city commission issue but I would completely be in favor of having more of a police presence in the parks around town. It is imperative that the parks that we send our children to are safe. I know that the police are incredibly busy, but maybe it could be as easy as asking them to stage around the city parks if they have time between calls. But if you do see people gawking at the children in the park, call it in!
GREGORY COTTRELL: We need to keep these parks safe as best we can. The city has a ton of issues on its plate right now and this is one of the major ones. We need to add more Police and Fire staff in my opinion. I know the police chief and the council has said the numbers are right where they need to be, but if the citizens don’t feel safe, we must not be doing enough. I’d be willing to ask the great officers of this town to make an extra loop or two when they are out on patrol. We can’t ask for a patrol man to be placed at each park, so let’s start with what we can expect and work from that point!
JEFF LARSON: The police department does a great job for the park district. If we call them about anything they respond in a timely fashion. As for loitering, that is a difficult area; the parks are free and open to anyone that wants to use them. Unless they are doing illegal activity there is not much the Park Board or staff or police can do.
MIKE OWENS: We can try and encourage the police department to patrol the parks more frequently but that matter is really out of our control.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: We as a city all desire to have safe places for our kids to play in and families to enjoy. We all have a part to play in working together toward a better city.
13. My son complain because they never put indoor skateboard in the new recreation center? If winter time they can’t use that skateboard park outside?
ZACK FLECK: Unfortunately I do not know of any plans to introduce an indoor skate park to Williston.
GREGORY COTTRELL: This could be something that we look at in the future for other plans in the city.
JEFF LARSON: The building committee, the board and staff put a lot of items in the ARC. The Flowrider was one that they targeted for the skateboarders to use in the winter. They were unable to put everything in the ARC. The skateboard park is open year round depending upon the weather conditions.
MIKE OWENS: The original public input for the ARC never had a skate park mentioned to my knowledge.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
14. With the recent turmoil between the Parks Director and the Board, how do you keep that from becoming a larger liability issue for the Parks district?
ZACK FLECK: Well before May 20th I had a different answer to this question. In this case, democracy worked! The people were concerned with the actions of the Board, and a number of them (including myself) stood up and voiced those concerns. I commend President Wilt and the rest of the board for issuing a complete apology to Darin Krueger, the Parks District staff, and the public. As a district we now need to come together and heal for the good of the community. The liability aspect of this issue has changed with the changing dynamics of the Board. It is now in the hands of the voters.
GREGORY COTTRELL: I believe that some of the liability issues may have been addressed by recording all the meetings and adding legal counsel to the meetings as well.
JEFF LARSON: We put the past behind us and move forward. There were mistakes made by individual board members, these have been addressed and changes have been made. I support Mr. Krueger 100% and I always have. The board needs to put their faith in him and let him do the job we hired him to do.
MIKE OWENS: The recent turmoil between board members and the executive director came about because a few members took things into their own hands. This will not be a liability and will not happen again.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
15. Is there any talk of opening more dog parks in town?
ZACK FLECK: I don’t know that there has been any talk of adding another dog park in town, but I would be in favor of looking at more. As a dog owner myself, I understand the benefits of taking them out to socialize and exercise and I think that additional dog parks would be an asset to the community.
GREGORY COTTRELL: Being a dog owner myself I’d be open to seeing more options for dog parks as well. I’m not sure if any are being planned, but I would like to add some where they would be helpful and accessible to the community! One step at a time. There are no easy fixes for what transpired over the last several months. I continue to believe that with greater communication and the development of trust, we can overcome this.
JEFF LARSON: I believe we will eventually add more as the city grows. I know our executive director has one in the plans for possibly one of the new parks up north in one of the new developments. We put the past behind us and look at all the positive we have going for us. We have the greatest recreation facility in the country. We have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to existing parks and facilities. We have plans for new parks and services. The future is nothing but bright!
MIKE OWENS: I have not heard mention of any new dog parks.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
16. I heard that the Eckert Youth Pool will not be opening this year, yet when I tried to go to the ARC it was over capacity and we had to wait a long time to get in. What steps can be taken to improve this?
ZACK FLECK: It really boils down to transparency. The public feels that their trust has been violated by a board with an agenda. I feel that the board needs to take ‘common sense’ actions that increase transparency and are in the best interests of the Parks district and the city as a whole. We need to get back to a place where the board and the parks staff had trust in each other and there was a sense of teamwork in the things that they accomplished. I feel that the first step was taken on May 20th, so we must continue to build on that progress.
GREGORY COTTRELL: This is one of my concerns as well. The ARC has worked out an agreement with the school and the Sea Lions to use the pool. This complicates things for the community. People who pay a membership aren’t being allowed (or will have limited access) to use the lap lanes during the afternoon/evening hours. I support having the swim team use the pool and I support the Sea Lions using the pool as well. What we need to do is figure out a better way for the community to get some water time in as well. This is one of the things I would like to address with the ARC. Without more information in front of me as to what has been agreed upon, I can’t provide a much clearer answer as to how to fix this just yet. But I will try my best to resolve this!
JEFF LARSON: The best news a board member can hear is that the ARC pool is full, that means the community is using our facility. We can only allow to capacity for safety reasons and safety is our priority. I know waiting in line is an inconvenience but there are other activities to enjoy while you wait. In doing some research on this question this happens in most public recreation centers around the country and is not isolated to Williston.
MIKE OWENS: Eckert youth pool won’t open due to safety issues and outdated mechanical equipment that according to Jim Cody is not cost effective to fix.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
17. I saw in the Herald when they wrote about the Park Board censure/reprimand and if I recall, one of the District Employees was quoted as saying ” I don’t trust them”, referring to some of the Board Members. I can’t fathom that there was not some sort of fallout for making a public quote like that. In the best scenario it was unprofessional; in the worst it was insubordinate. Leadership is a lonely mistress, and I would like to know how these new candidates would handle a situation like this.
ZACK FLECK: My first thought on this question is that everyone is entitled to their opinion. What really needs to happen in this case is to find out ‘why’. As I have found in previous management experience, if that employee feels that way then there is most likely a valid reason for it. I believe that the best way to handle it is to talk directly to that employee and find out why they feel the way that they feel. Perhaps after talking to that person and addressing their concerns, it may be a positive step forward in terms of regaining that person’s trust.
GREGORY COTTRELL: First and foremost I support free speech. The letter was written from a district employee addressing the board. This person is just as much and employee as he is a voter with a right to comment on how he views the board that was elected. If you feel that you can’t trust someone on the board it’s your right to feel that way and to voice it. We live in a country where that is our privilege and right. This letter was written in support of his leader. The leader that was under attack from the board. I feel that person had just as much a right to say that as anyone in this community. He wasn’t being slanderous, mean, or attacking an individual. That district employee was standing up for his community and his leader Darren. Plenty of local citizens came forward any voiced their concerns as well. So if you are asking what would I have done faced with this same concern or letter, I would’ve had to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask myself how I lost this person’s trust. And the next thing I would’ve had to do is figure out a way to earn that trust back. ? Freedom of speech is for everyone, including those getting a paycheck from the district.
JEFF LARSON: Staff reports directly to the executive director or a supervisor not the park board. The board oversees/supervises the executive director and has no authority over staff. With everything going on recently the staff was unhappy with how things were handled improperly with their supervisor. They had every right to express displeasure. They supported the executive director and the board has now corrected its errors, apologized to him, his family and the entire staff and are also supporting the entire staff and the executive director and are moving forward. Staff was upset with the illegal actions of some members of the board. They have the right to speak and support what they believe and in this case I feel they had every right to be upset. The actions of the board were wrong and have been fixed. The parks and recreation staff is now healing and moving forward to work as a team with the board to continue the plan to be the best and to archive our mission statement. Every staff member at WPRD works very hard every single day and I as a board member appreciate and support all they do on a daily basis.
MIKE OWENS: A district employee was asked how he felt and answered the question truthfully. It wasn’t unprofessional or insubordinate. Leadership does not have to be a lonely position as long as trust and respect are given on both sides.
CHRIS SWARTHOUT: NO ANSWER GIVEN
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Finally, I gave each person the opportunity to make an additional statement. Only Zack Fleck did (although this shouldn’t be a negative reflection on anyone else). Here is Mr. Fleck’s statement:
I feel that the Williston Parks and Recreation District is uniquely positioned to be one of the premier Parks Districts in the Midwest. If elected, I will do everything that I can to help our Parks and Recreation district achieve this goal.
Here is my 5-point plan to get us there:
1) Emphasize communication and cooperation with other city entities to ensure that the ARC is utilized to its highest potential (regional events, tourism, possible enhanced revenue streams, college recruitment, etc)
• While this facility is first and foremost for the citizens of the Williston area to enjoy, I believe that it can also provide an enhancement to other city entities. It allows our high school to host a premier regional indoor track meet, and will be one of two facilities in North Dakota that are capable of hosting a long-track swim meet. The ARC will provide a recruitment boost to Williston State College. It could even be highlighted by the Convention and Visitors Bureau to increase tourism in the area. I will make sure that the Parks and Recreation department cooperates with other divisions of the city to make this happen. After all is said and done with the ARC, Williston will be a better place because of it!
2) Work closely with City Planning to incorporate usable green space into new developments
• With all of the new development coming into Williston, it is important to make sure that our parks system is not left behind. I plan to work closely with the members of the city planning commission to ensure that developers plan to incorporate usable green space in their plans. The practice of setting aside impractical lots that are too small to enjoy and too scattered to maintain is unacceptable.
3) Focus on upgrades to softball and baseball facilities
• Our softball fields are in rough shape. It will be a personal focus of mine to either move forward on upgrades to the current facilities, or begin the process of building a more modern and up to date softball facility. We are the only major city in North Dakota to not host softball tournaments. Over the past few years it has been because of high hotel and travel costs. I intend to do everything that I can to improve our facilities and bring softball tournaments back to Williston!
4) Ensuring that Parks and Rec facilities are cleaned and maintained to a high standard
• Even with a beautiful facility like the ARC, we still have to remember that we have a whole system of parks in Williston that need to be cleaned and maintained to a high level. We need to make sure that we have our resources and manpower allocated in a way that allows us to continue to keep our parks maintained!
5) Continued focus on the kids, but more leagues and programs for all ages and all seasons
• Parks programs and facilities exist for the kids of Williston and the surrounding areas. That will continue to be emphasized under my leadership. I feel that we have just opened the door to a variety of new programs that will not only keep our kids safe and entertained, but can all members of the community active, regardless of age. I will work to introduce new and exciting programs to the Williston Parks and Recreation portfolio to make sure that everyone has something that they can subscribe to and enjoy.
For more information please visit my Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/zacharyfleck2014
Please vote for me on June 10th.