published Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Cleveland Parks and Recreation Department honored for 'best practices'

  • photo
    Mayor Tom Rowland stands in front of the shops of downtown Cleveland, Tenn.
    Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has recognized the Cleveland Parks and Recreation Department as an example of best management practices.

The announcement was made by city Parks and Recreation Director Patti Petitt and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland.

The department will be included in a TDEC benchmarking program that will allow others to study its management and operations and use that information to guide their own planning and objectives, the officials said.

Petitt said the benchmarking process is conducted by TDEC's Recreational Education Service. It takes department practices, policies, manuals, buildings and grounds and staffing into consideration, she said.

The benchmarked status also will help in funding, Petitt said.

"Benchmarked means we get 10 points up front when our grant requests are being considered," she said.

In other city business, changes are in the works for Cleveland's planning operations.

The Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission recently voted to change its regular meeting day from the fourth to the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

Meeting on the fourth Tuesday often does not allow enough time for the 15-day public notification period for zoning amendments or changes, City Planner Corey Divel said.

The extra week allows the notification requirement to be met before bringing items to the City Council, which meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month.

Jonathan Jobe, director of development and engineering services, said changing the day is intended to be a convenience for residents with business before the Planning Commission.

The Department of Engineering Services also will fill the new position of property maintenance official, created from a previously frozen department slot, in early 2014, Jobe said.

That official will be responsible for handling Cleveland's property maintenance code and regulations dealing with slum clearance and blighted areas, Jobe said. The property maintenance official will work with the police department and the city administrative officer.

Jobe said the property maintenance official has been authorized to respond to residents' complaints about poorly maintained properties and will search for absentee property owners after neighborhood complaints.

Another Cleveland position will be filled on Dec. 9 when Shawn McKay assumes the position of finance director/city clerk, City Manager Janice Casteel said in a recent announcement.

The position was vacated last year when William Watson resigned, citing personal reasons.

"I am excited to be able to put my expertise, talents, and experience to work for my community," McKay said.

Casteel said McKay brings 25 years of business administration, human resources and accounting experience to the position.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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