By Linda Dillman
Recreation in Canal Winchester could have a different look in the future following the hiring of a consultant to advise the Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District on how best to provide services to residents.
“Recently, we’ve been asking questions about what’s best for our residents and how do we serve them better?” said CWJRD council representative Will Bennett. “Should we remain focused on key sport programs or, as our community grows, should our offerings grow and be more diverse? To help us answer these questions and have a better understanding of our place in the community, the CWJRD hired Andy Wildman, who serves as the executive director at Granville Recreation District, to help consult on the potential future of the organization.”
Bennett said the district is essentially a government agency formed by two other government agencies—the city and school district, that aligns with the school district boundary. It primarily provides sports programming for youth, along with a few adult leagues.
“The CWJRD has been picking his (Wildman’s) brain over the last two years on specific joint recreation topics,” said Bennett. “He’s extremely passionate about recreation, so he’s always been very generous with his time. We have a lot, and I mean a lot, of fantastic people in our organization that give a lot of themselves to make our community a better place. But none of us have Andy’s level of expertise in recreation management.”
Bennett said he approached Wildman and asked if he would consider a more formal arrangement in providing “steering” for the Canal Winchester organization.
“We’ve discussed topics and what could be included and we are still working out the exact details,” Bennett said. “However, we have already agreed in principle that he will be hosting meetings with key stakeholders within our group, the school district and the city—making short-term and long-term operations and funding recommendations. Details on the public participation element are still to come.”
Wildman was appointed as the director of the Granville Recreation District in May 2010. Prior to that posting, he worked as the director of the Barberton Parks and Recreation Department where he was responsible for the maintenance of more than 200 acres of park land, programming and coordination of recreational activities.
In collaboration with the Barberton YMCA, he helped spearhead the design and construction of a 60,000 square-foot community center and active adult center. Wildman graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor of science degree in recreation management.
CWJRD council representative Jill Amos felt offering only youth athletics and two adult athletic programs does not meet the needs of 75 percent of the community.
“By rolling out Big Kid Recreation programming to our adults over the next few years, we can start providing for possible services for those looking to be active or try something new without having to go far,” said Amos. “Our hopes are to look into additional programming for our youth as well that would include the sciences and arts.”
According to Bennett—regarding Wildman’s compensation—the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association recommended, and both parties agreed, on a rate of $75 per hour. Funding for the position will come from the recreation district’s expansion fund balance and not result in any increases in future registration rates.
“Our goal is to have this report completed before the end of the year,” said Bennett.