By Alton Mitchell
LaFayette’s February 27th city council meeting was one that was filled with questions, hopes, and ideas that could enrich the futures of LaFayette’s youth. Many of the questions were unanswered at the meeting, but just days following the meeting city leaders took steps to get some of the issues addressed by beginning the process of organizing LaFayette’s recreation committee.
At the February meeting resident Yolanda Ratchford questioned city involvement in youth sports and the possibility of growing those programs to additional sports and getting some level of accountability for finances and structure of leadership in the youth recreation programs in LaFayette. At the meeting council members used the questions presented by Ratchford as a listening session, but did promise to follow-up with her and to offer additional information to local residents who may share a similar interest in these type of programs.
On Wednesday council members kept their promise to Ratchford and called a meeting to begin to organize the LaFayette recreation committee. At that meeting much was accomplished to include electing a treasurer and a secretary. These two positions create a framework to begin to establish a system of structure that was seen as lacking by the questions presented at the council presented at the council meeting, accountability.
According to inquiries presented at the council meeting a lot of questions in the recreation area of LaFayette center around who is in charge, what are the guidelines, and where is the money going? These inquires all boil down to accountability. By beginning to put faces and names with the organization it begins to establish a system of accountability in the recreation area of LaFayette and maybe a source to get some of the questions answered.
Ms. Ratchford did attend the meeting on Wednesday. She stated that she sees things moving in a positive direction with the efforts being taken by LaFayette officials. “I was very pleased and surprised to see Mayor Barry Moody at the meeting. He came and provided a lot of insight to the committee including input on finances and expenses,” stated Ratchford.
The questions about the recreation committee in LaFayette go back nearly five years and have continued to lack answers. Ratchford feels many positive things were accomplished on Wednesday to differ from past actions and show that things are moving in the right direction now. “This is the first meeting and we have to figure out how to work things out better,” Councilman Toney Thomas stated at the meeting. Council member Thomas is the chair of the recreation department.
While accountability has become the greatest question following last Monday’s council meeting another issue was also highlighted and that was bringing additional sports to the youth of the city. Soccer was mentioned as a possible option. At the council meeting Councilman Michael Ellis expressed his interest in being open to additional offerings in sports such as soccer. Councilman Ellis serves as a member of the recreation board of LaFayette.
Ratchford stated that she sees a lot of potential with the new recreation committee and is pleased with the way things are moving. Following Wednesday meeting Ratchford stated, “I feel the board may have been functioning with some unclear guidelines, but the restructuring should help it to operate in a more open manner.” Ratchford feels this could be the greatest tool to accountability and greater public access to what is going on.
In addition keeping the public informed can be a great tool as well. Ratchford stated that information about changes or events in the recreation committee should be published through social media outlets such as Facebook to allow residents to better understand what is going on.
There is no word yet on when the committee will meet again, but progress is being made to implement changes in the LaFayette recreation committee.