Misery Loves Company

It’s amazing how, in times like these, definitions of “necessary” and “priority” change. Everything seems to roll back to the basics–keep the lights on, the utilities working and the doors open–even if with shortened operating hours, which we’ve also had to do at a couple facilities. But we can only defer maintenance so long before it’s obvious we’re deferring maintenance, and the infrastructure begins to show its age and overuse. Caught in the vortex of a fiscal crisis, all we can do is try to hang on to what we have, and hope things improve sooner rather than later. Perhaps this budget crisis that has hit the nation and affected the whole world explains why I’ve had such a large response to the LBWA column entitled “Recreation Road Show” in the PRB December issue.

In that article I described a PowerPoint presentation I developed to tell the story of what we in Peachtree City Leisure Services do. I give this to civic groups, citizen groups, elected officials, staff and anyone who will listen. It creates a better understanding for the community, and helps validate our budget requests. I offered to share the presentation with recreation professionals and to this point I’ve had about two dozen requests with a few more sitting in my e-mail inbox as I write this. A common theme of requestors is that they would like to develop a similar presentation to counter the perception that recreation professionals “have the best jobs in the world because they just have fun and play games all day.” That may be partially true, but for the most part when others are having fun, we’re working! Many also said they found it challenging to compete for budget dollars in this economy, and thought this presentation might help them. I am happy to share because what helps one recreation department ultimately helps the entire field.

I guess the consolation in this whole budget conundrum is that we’re all in it together, and indeed there is strength in numbers. There isn’t a single American who is not in some way touched by it, some more than others. Let’s hope that as we move into the New Year and a new administration, our elected and appointed officials can put aside their differences and remember why they were elected or appointed in the first place.

So, do you care to share any of your budget horror stories, or ideas on recession-proof recreation? Write me or the magazine, and we’ll share them with the field.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation, library) in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (770) 631-2542 or e-mail dls@peachtree-city.org

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