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Township recreation reaction

Field conditions, organization draws concern

May 15, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Jay Reynolds brought a lengthy list of complaints regarding recreation to the township board meeting May 6, including displeasure with uniforms, equipment, soccer fields, and overall disorganization in the department.

"It is my goal and my intent on the behalf of dozens and dozens of parents and children to bring to the attention of this board that the quality of service from our park and recreation program here in Brandon that we have all come to expect from years past needs significant addressing," said Reynolds, the father of two young children and president of the Brandon Hawks Soccer Club. "Over the years I see that we are crippling our system with lack of organization and communication… I would urge you to please investigate and to collectively collaborate on improving this service to our community."This past Saturday, May 11, Supervisor Kathy Thurman said she did just that— going to the township community park, 1414 Hadley Road, and interviewing 15 parents while soccer games were being played. She said she asked the parents to rate overall satisfaction with the recreation program, fields, uniforms, scheduling and organization.

"It seemed as though people were generally satisfied with the recreation program," she said. "Overall the feedback was positive."

Thurman also asked parents if having the township recreation office closed on Fridays was a problem and she said only two of the 15 said it was inconvenient.

The closing of the recreation office on Fridays followed cuts to recreation staffing in the past few years. The township board unveiled a plan in 2010 to save nearly $500,000 over the course of three years. That plan included cuts to staff, with the most dramatic changes coming in the recreation department, where the programmer position was eliminated in 2011 and the administrative assistant position was cut in 2012. The moves saved the township $34,092.65 each and made Director Fred Waybrant the sole full-time employee in recreation. A part-time contracted employee helps in the department and is paid for through programming funds only.

During their May 6 meeting, the board approved the hiring of Kara Titus as the new part-time recreation employee, with hours not to exceed 24 per week.

Still, Waybrant noted during the meeting, "I'm being pulled in a lot of directions. I'd like to go back a couple years and get more help in the department."

Thurman said that won't happen without more approved funding for the department, although some board members have expressed a desire to have the recreation office open on Fridays.

"More staff would certainly help," said Thurman. "Fred hasn't had much help at all this year because he has had two different employees to train and we are only four months into the year. He's had a help issue… We can't afford more staff. All the offices in the township would run better with more staffing, but we don't have the funds."

Reynolds said he just wants adequate recreation service for the residents.

"People are getting poor quality for the money they are paying," he said. "Our equipment is severely outdated for baseball. The soccer field conditions are horrible. The baseball fields are deplorable… Around us, with the exception of Holly, people are putting new money into their sports programs… A five-year plan here to put in baseball fields? They needed to be fixed yesterday."

Reynolds is upset also about the overlapping schedules of soccer and baseball and said he is considering putting his children in Oxford recreation programs. He would prefer to keep them here, however, and is launching a petition for residents to sign asking for improvements to township parks and recreation. He hopes to have at least 200 signatures and will have the petition at 6:30 p.m., May 22.at the Brandon Township Library, 304 South St. For more information, e-mail


Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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