The items had been bones of contention in an ongoing conflict that led to a reprimand of Richard Garland, executive director of the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority.
On Monday, Garland presented the RFPRA board with a response to its Nov. 6 disciplinary action, which includes a week’s suspension without pay.
The four-page document with attachments details the steps he’s taken to address the complaints, and to repair relations with the Shorter staff and his own employees.
Garland said he doesn’t agree with the accusations against him, but he accepts the discipline in an effort to move forward with restoring the board’s trust. He’s been with the agency 22 years, seven of them as director.
“At no time was it my intention to embarrass, discredit or cast a poor light on this agency or the citizens who serve as its board. … This is more than a profession to me,” he read from his written response. “It is a large part of who I am and how I define myself. I have no desire to be doing anything else.”
Garland said he’s apologized to Shorter officials, and the school’s attorney is reviewing an agreement to let them buy and install the ice machine and an $80,000 Daktronics digital scoreboard. He had previously blocked the plans.
Shorter will pay all expenses, including a $1,500 annual fee to cover utilities, and will be able to take the two items if it doesn’t renew its lease at some point.
RFPRA officials initially thought the scoreboard would be shared by all Alto Park Triplex users, but it will be reserved for the school. Chairman Jerry Lee said the existing scoreboard would remain for other games.
Additionally, Garland has written County Manager Blaine Williams for an ordinance exemption that would let Shorter’s softball team members leave their cars at Alto Park while attending away games. Some repairs also have been made at the facility.
To address complaints about his treatment of employees, Garland said he would bring future personnel actions to the board.
He’s also created three staff teams charged with boosting morale in various ways, and a new evaluation system includes a way for workers to rate their supervisors in confidence.
RFPRA board members also heard Monday from supporters of Garland, and other detractors.
City Commissioner Bill Collins, who spoke as a private citizen, said the agency was slow to respond to community requests regarding Banty Jones Park on Crane Street.
“We think we’re just as important in the challenged areas as the situation with Shorter,” he said.
Letters from Carol Willis and Jim Burton, however, testified to Garland’s assistance to the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth.
“During one of our lowest times Richard and your board basically were willing to help us out tremendously, and the Commission is grateful,” wrote Willis, the executive director.