October 24, 2012 - After 24 years on the Parks and Recreation Commission, Rick Laidler is stepping down.
Oxford Twp. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rick Laidler is ready to step into retirement. Photo by Trevor Keiser. (click for larger version)
"The reason I'm stepping down is because I am retiring and I'm moving to Florida," he said. "I am 64 years-old, so I am ready to retire."
He is moving to Fort Meyers with Marie, his wife of 43 years. After visiting there the past three years, Laidler said they finally decided to build a house down there last year.
Laidler originally started with the parks and rec. commission in 1988 because his two children were young and involved in sports.
"I got an interest in what they were doing," he said. "My daughter was playing soccer on a cow pasture. "I said 'it's got to be better than this. We can do better." And we did."
He recalled the tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, splash pad, and sledding hill all being added to the Seymour Lake Park.
"We've done a lot of improvements out there and acquired some more property," he said.
Since than we've also acquired Powel Lake Park, Oakwood Lake Park and we've always tried to keep Stony Lake Park going for the residents. We've done very well."
Laidler believes Oxford has one of the best parks and rec. programs and systems in the state, based on the amount of land they've acquired for the residents.
He attributed a large part of the success to the parks and rec. department and the changes that occurred to current Parks and Rec. Director Ron Davis. Prior to Davis, Laidler said they only had two employees working in Parks and Rec., which consisted of a director and secretary.
"Now we have two programmers, administrative assistants, secretary, maintenance department with two employees, we got a lot more equipment and stuff," he said. "It's definitely grown since Ron came on board in 1995."
Laidler said Davis has also made being on the commission a lot easier, with his organization.
"Nobody gets mad at people (serving) on the Parks and Rec. Commssion. (It's not like) being on the board for the township, zoning board or planning commission, where people get mad at you," he said. "Everybody seems to like us and I think we do a lot of things for the community to make sure they're getting the best value for their tax dollars. We run a lot of programs."
The commission is a policy making board that oversees the operations and if there is a change in rules and operations it's brought before the commission.
From there, the commission will bring forth their recommendation to the township board.
"An example, a few years back we had an issue of alcohol in our parks and we decided to ban (it). We had to go in front of the township board, pass an ordinance. That's what we do," he said. "We're a sounding board for Mr. Davis on new things he wants to do, as far as programs or projects and we have to approve those before he can do them."
Laidler was chairman of the commission from 1990 to 2010. However, he spent the last two years as a commissioner.
Along with being involved with the commission, Laidler was also involved previously with the Jaycees, Optimist Club, and the Oxford Chamber of Commerce, while offices in each of the organizations.
"Rick and I have been friends for over 18 years," Davis said. "It's going to be hard to see him go."
While enjoying his time as a life-long Oxford Resident and 37 years working at Community Insurance Company, Laidler said he is ready for the next phase that life brings.
"It's time for me to move on and start the next chapter of my life," he said. "Relax and play a little golf, that's what I've got planned."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.