New Parks and Recreation Director takes oath

Mayor Michael Whisenant administers the Oath of Office to Ira Thompson, the city’s new director of Parks and Recreation at the April 13 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.                       

 Raising his right hand and standing before Fayetteville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Ira Thompson was given the Oath of Office as the city’s new Parks and Recreation Director by Mayor Michael Whisenant. Although Thompson began work Monday, March 15, last Tuesday was the first board meeting since he was hired.

As the mayor read the oath, Thompson repeated the oath by saying:

“I, Ira Thompson, do solemnly swear that I will honestly and faithfully discharge the duties of the office for the City of Fayetteville, Tennessee, to which I have been appointed, and which I am about to assume, without partiality, favor or affection and that I will uphold the Constitutions of the State of Tennessee and the United States of America and the Charter and ordinances of the City of Fayetteville. So help me God.”

When City Administrator Scott Collins announced Thompson’s hiring, he said that Thompson was bringing a strong leadership background in Parks and Recreation management to the job, as well as a high level of energy and enthusiasm for the opportunities within the department.

“Key attributes include project management and program leadership, operations management and budget planning, team building, community engagements, fundraising and outreach initiatives,” said Collins.

Thompson later presented the monthly recreation department report to the board that included updates on improvements being made to facilities and city parks, the logo and new hours of operation. Thompson said the staff is working diligently “trying to attack issues as soon as we can. We just ask that people be patient with us.”

Patience is needed when people call the office when the telephone isn’t answered in a timely manner. The director said that means the staff is busy. He said the message on the voicemail needs to be updated. “If you know of anyone with a good radio voice,” Thompson said, “send them my way.”

Vice Mayor Danny Bryant told Thompson he had visited four of the parks. “I commend you for the work being done. It looks like you’re doing a good job,” to which Thompson responded: “it’s the team! We work as a team.”

Both Bryant and Alderman Roger Martinez said that when Thompson came on board, the Parks and Recreation Department was a “hot mess.” Martinez said that parents are willing to help at the parks and suggested that Thompson utilize all volunteers.

“I don’t think it was a hot mess,” Thompson responded. “I am thankful for all those who went before us. We are getting help from many of those people and it’s greatly appreciated.”

Alderman Donna Hartman said when people come to her about conditions at any of the parks, “I tell them to go talk to Ira. Let him know your concerns.” The director said he will find time to talk to everyone who has something to say. Many residents have been very vocal about conditions at the city parks, especially at Kids Park where lighting hasn’t been working for more than a year. Moms have been taking their children to parks in Huntsville, Ardmore, Pulaski and Tullahoma due to the unsafe conditions of playground equipment and grounds.

With the arrival of spring, more and more people are getting out to the parks as youth sports are gearing up. Plans are under way to open the pool next month after it was closed all last season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And with July 4 less than three months away, plans are being made for a fabulous celebration.

New hours for Parks and Recreation office are from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.