Mar 27 2016

Opinion: Recreation Commission Impacts Piedmont Lives

Recreation Commission works to improve and create new programs for Piedmont.

When I was first assigned this project, [which required me to attend a Piedmont government meeting], I didn’t have the highest expectations for how relevant it would all feel to me. I chose the first meeting that could fit around my schedule, March 16, 2016, and I got ready to deal with a night of bureaucracy that would have no real impact on my life. Fortunately, I was completely wrong with my assumptions.

The subject matter discussed at the Recreation Commission meeting struck a chord with me, as I realized how much of my life growing up in Piedmont was centered around it. Topics such as summer programs for kids, field space for sports, and the annual Harvest Festival were all brought up and, became some of the main focuses of the night. For anyone interested in attending one of these meetings, they meet every third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chamber.

The first item on the night’s agenda was a Public Forum where anyone in attendance was allowed to bring up an issue that they feel is relevant to the community. The Commission members were very welcoming and when I went up to the podium to make my point, I never felt out of place just because I was in high school.

I brought up the issue of the lack of field space for many of Piedmont’s sports teams, rugby in particular. Sara Lillevand, Recreation Director and Steve Mills, Commissioner, both responded to my question with enthusiasm and cooperation, as they put forth ideas like better lines of communication between all of Piedmont’s club sports teams and the Commission itself. While my plight wasn’t solved then and there, I felt as if a step was being taken in the right direction and progress was happening before my eyes.

A topic that was presented that I instantly felt gravitated towards was the summer program “Every Superhero Needs A Sidekick”. The program matches children dealing with mental disabilities to a high school C.I.T (Counselor in Training) who would spend time with them and make sure they’re having fun with their summer.

When I asked Director Sara Lillevand how she felt about the program, she responded with nothing but enthusiasm and gratitude towards the high school C.I.T’s. “They’re going to be doing great work over there and have a tremendous impact on our tight knit community.” Hearing about programs like this inspired me and created a reaction that I never thought could come from attending a government related meeting.

As the meeting progressed, I was also able to take note of the efforts and true labors of love many of the people in the recreation department do for the youth of Piedmont. For example, this year the Recreation Department was able to get a record number of seven Middle School basketball teams organized so everyone would be able to get a chance to play. Passing by this may not seem like a big deal, but the fact that every Middle Schooler who wants to play now can is absolutely huge in the grand scheme. On top of this, events like the Harvest Festival and Movies in the Park, which can tend to be taken for granted, are constantly being discussed and debated upon on how to improve their quality for the citizens of Piedmont.

By the end of the meeting, I had felt like I had grown a new appreciation for the Recreation Commission and the governing body of Piedmont in general as well. They work in the background of our lives and have a significant impact on it, whether we are aware of it or not. The night ended on a somber note, however, as Commissioners Stephen Mills, Nick Levinson, and Kim Hebert all stepped down from their positions. They had been there for many years, but they left knowing that the Recreation Commission was in good hands with the other very capable Commission members.

Mason Willrich, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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