Salem Parks Commission, Memorial Building separate

Commission selects interim parks director

Shane Franks

Shane Franks

SALEM — The Salem Parks Commission agreed Wednesday to separate the department from Salem Memorial Building operations and also named Recreation Supervisor Shane Franks as Interim Parks Director starting Monday.

The 3-0 action to separate the two well-known Salem entities ended a lengthy marriage of shared resources and personnel, but came with a desire by park commissioners to keep a friendly relationship, one which could include renting office space in the Memorial Building with an ultimate goal of moving out.

Parks Commission Chairman John Panezott Sr. likened the situation to “a little kid finally growing up and being on our own.”

What it all means logistically remains under consideration, with the parks commission indicating they want the department to stay in the building for now to explore their options for office space, whether that means staying there, moving to another location like the KSU City Center or building onto the maintenance building at Waterworth Memorial Park. Panezott said “if we have to pay rent, we pay rent.”

Parks Commission Vice Chairman Terry Hoopes said they’ll continue the snow removal and taking care of the grounds, noting it will be up to the Memorial Building board on whether the members want the parks department in the Memorial Building.

The Parks Commission invited the Memorial Building board members to the meeting, which was attended by Chairman William Wilkins, Gary Greenisen, James Taus and Panezott, who serves on both. Other members of the Memorial Building board include Jack Hutton and Joe Sedzmak. Also in attendance at the commission meeting was Salem Mayor John Berlin, Salem Auditor Betty Brothers, Patty Colian of the Banquet in Salem, Larry Bowersock, Jill Moore (who works for the Memorial Building), Franks and outgoing Parks Director Steve Faber.

The separation comes on the heels of the announcement about Faber’s departure after nearly 26 years service as parks director. Faber and the commission made a joint announcement recently, saying it was a mutual decision for him to leave effective Feb. 2. For the month of January, he’ll be using up his vacation time and until then, the commission is hoping he’ll work with Franks on the transition.

Franks will become interim director and continue to perform his duties as recreation supervisor until a decision is made on a new parks director. He’ll finish up his work for the Memorial Building before that.

Anyone interested in the parks director position can print out a city employment application from www.cityofsalemohio.org, fill it out and send it along with a resume to Salem City Hall, 231 S. Broadway Ave., Salem, Ohio 44460. The envelope should be addressed to the attention of John Panezott Sr. The deadline to apply is Jan. 2. A job description will be placed on the city website at www.cityofsalemohio.org. Panezott had to check on the salary and did not have the salary figure for the interim position. He planned to contact Salem Civil Service for assistance with advertising the position.

“We appreciate the job Mr. Faber has done these past 25 years,” Hoopes said, wishing him luck.

The commission members appeared to indicate that Faber was going to continue in his position as building manager with the Memorial Building, but when asked about that, the three Memorial Building board members indicated nothing had been voted on at their meeting. They said they met after reading about Faber leaving as parks director in the newspaper and had agreed they wanted to continue the relationship with the parks department.

For many, many years, both the parks director and the recreation supervisor worked for both the parks department and the memorial building, which have always been separate entities, but were operated almost like one entity with park offices in the building. They received a salary from the parks department, but also received part of their salary from the Memorial Building, peforming duties for both. Memorial Building employees answered the phone for both the parks and Memorial Building. Franks made sure the building was ready for any major events and oversaw the craft show fundraisers and other activities. Faber oversaw Franks and both the parks and Memorial Building employees. They even share the same phone number.

The parks department receives funding from two tax levies, along with pavilion rentals. The Memorial Building board, which is a private non-profit, does not hold public meetings and receives funding from building use rentals, fundraisers such as the craft shows, letter campaigns for donations, the United Way and a small amount of funding from the city. During an executive session called for personnel, Wilkins said they were open to the parks department remaining in the building.

Prior to the executive session, Panezott questioned whether they needed to be so intertwined. He said Franks set up a lot of programs that were for the parks, such as basketball league at Centennial and softball leagues, and they learned that none of that money went into parks accounts. The money went into the Memorial Building account, which he did not understand.

Wilkins said the board was ok with the two entities staying together and said it was probably easier to just deposit some of those funds to the Memorial Building account rather than going through the city. He used the dog park donations as an example, saying the money was just in and out for the project. Brothers questioned how that was easier, noting that the parks accounts are separate from the city’s general fund.

Commission member Lucille Karnofel said the commission was not aware that the Memorial Building was getting all the money for the programs. She questioned what the benefit was for the parks to say with the Memorial Building.

“You’re getting all the money, we’re doing all the work,” she said.

Panezott also commented that now they know there’s going to be a separate manager for the Memorial Building and Franks would have to answer to two bosses and that’s not acceptable.

Wilkins said it’s up to the parks commission to decide what they want.

Berlin brought up about the location and said the city could probably find a place but asked if there was any office space available in the Memorial Building. Bowersock asked how much rent the parks would have to pay if the department moved out, but nobody could answer that question since no other arrangements had been made. Currently no rent is paid, but the parks department does all the snow removal and grass cutting. Both entities use the same computer.

Hoopes said nobody knows all the answers on why or how the two entities became so intertwined, but added “we’re just looking at these situations and what we need to do and what’s best for the parks department.”

Both he and Panezott said they didn’t want to lose the good relationship they had with the Memorial Building board. Moore questioned how it will all be separated.

In talking about what’s happened, Panezott said “it’s been tough. We’re still going to have a good relationship with the Memorial Building. Hopefully there’s no hard feelings.”

COMMENTS