What may have begun as a minor misunderstanding has become a bone of contention between USD 231 officials and Gardner City regarding use of the district’s ou door fields for community programs.
About 2012, the district and city declared a “partnership,”working together on water rates, usage rental fees, road and utility extensions, crossing guards and usage of some district facilities.
It was a good partnership, and taxpayers benefited from the collaboration. But the partnership seems to be rapidly deteriorating.
Field usage scheduling has been discussed in city meetings, and e mail received thru a Kansas Open Records request indicate tensions have run high on both sides.
Although from the e mail received, the problem seems to have started as a simple miscommunication between two fairly new employees – one city and one school – everyone appears to have joined the fray – not just employees but elected officials as well.
This spring the school district formed the Gardner Edgerton Youth & Community Programs (GEYCP) and are now offering courses similar to those previously offered by Gardner Parks and Recreation.
An outline of field usage guidelines adopted in 2013 between former district and city employees has apparently been changed, leaving some parents, coaches and staff shaking their heads. Confusion has been so high that police were called mid-May regarding field usage when two different teams had a scheduling conflict.
It’s discouraging that the “partnership” seems to have devolved; discouraging that most of these changes were done without more community input, public transparency and communication.
The facilities and the staff of both entities are funded by the taxpayers. Property of both entities ultimately belongs to the taxpayers, not the taxing entity.
It’s hard to tell youth not to pile on during a playground spat when adults don’t model the same behavior.
It’s fine to “take your ball and go home,” but we wonder what the ultimate cost will be for residents when we have three entities taxing for recreation programs: county, city and school.
A turf war never benefits anyone.