— The City of Anderson recently named a new parks and recreation superintendent. He is Stephon Blackwell, who has been a member of Mayor Kevin Smith’s administration in other capacities.
After all the recent cuts to the city parks department budget, going back to Mayor Kris Ockomon’s term, it’s hoped that Blackwell will get some funds to improve city parks. Parks staff was cut to the bone, including city councilman’s Rodney Chamberlain’s job. Parks seemed to become a last priority, not worth the trouble or expense for maintenance, let alone improvements.
As Blackwell mentioned at his appointment announcement, “Quality of life is very important to the citizens of Anderson, as well as the people who visit our city.”
He’s right, of course. It’s long been known that parks and recreational opportunities are economic development tools. Business people who come into town want to know what there is to do and, once the parks are found, what they offer. Since life is not all about work or school, a good park system can help keep people in town and bring in others.
Smith was high in his praise of Blackwell. “He has enhanced the programs the Geater Center offers by partnering with organizations like the YMCA. We’ve also seen Grandview Golf Course progress into a premier golf course again,” said the mayor.
Darrin Foltz, park board president, said he was excited to have Blackwell in that capacity
Blackwell, an Anderson native and Anderson University graduate, seems to have some creative ideas for the parks, and he’s going to need more. The job will require new programs and physical improvements. That means the city should pony up more funds for parks. If not, a good parks superintendent will get frustrated when trying to implement new programs.
The city has indicated it wants a good parks system with the hiring of Blackwell. Now it needs to back up that hiring with some cash.