Rec. director has big plans

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For Mayor Joseph Solomon, the grass is always greener in Warwick.

This isn’t simply a reflection of his oft-spoken affinity for the city he resides over as mayor, but also because for the first time in recent history, the city once again has a dedicated parks and recreation department – and both he and the department’s director, James Scott, believe the results of that fact will become readily apparent in the coming months.

Until this most recent budget process, parks and recreation had been housed under the city’s Department of Public Works, which Scott and Solomon believe resulted in parks and recreation often taking a back seat to the more prevalent portions of DPW’s responsibilities.

“DPW does a lot of things great, but when you put parks under DPW, programming doesn’t become a priority,” he said. “The parks get second fiddle to the roads and highways, which are obviously also important.”

As of July 1, the Parks and Recreation Department will split from the Department of Public Works and begin to operate independently. There is no increase in overall staffing and the DPW budget has been reduced in certain areas to supplement the new parks department. 

According to Scott, this change will result in a shifting of priorities that will benefit the city’s residents and the outdoor recreational areas they enjoy.

“We’re starting to look at programming,” he said. “Starting to look at the existing programs out there that use parks and rec facilities and look at the quality of what they do. We’re starting to get into this programming phase. We’re starting to identify opportunities.”

Solomon pointed to examples like his bringing back spring swimming lessons for the first time in nearly 10 years – which has now been expanded into summer lessons as well – and a new “Skate and Splash” initiative, which will expand the hours of public skating at Thayer Arena from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. and, with the purchase of a $5 pass to skate, will grant adults a free swim pass to McDermott Pool during their adult swim and open swim hours. The initiative is running until August 23.

Addressing Mickey Stevens and other facilities

During a recent meeting of the Warwick City Council that drew hundreds of student athletes and educators who protested the potential loss of school sports due to a lack of funding for the school department, a common lament heard from people speaking during public comments was the deplorable conditions of facilities such as the Mickey Stevens ball fields – where recreational amenities are either significantly withered or completely off limits and unusable due to their degradation.

Scott said that these concerns have not gone unnoticed, and addressing Mickey Stevens was among a list of top priorities for the department during the summer. He mentioned working on the formation of a committee that would include stakeholders from throughout the city who could get together and discuss how to best handle situations like Mickey Stevens.

Currently sitting atop a capped industrial site, Solomon has recently expressed concern about rehabilitating fields at Mickey Stevens at their current location. He has equated the idea to throwing good money after bad, and agreed with the concept of the committee coming together to find out a better solution for future recreational opportunities.

“We’ve got a goal in mind and a positive advancement in mind and really a group of enthusiastic people that want to participate, and that’s refreshing,” he said.

Scott said the committee was still in its formation process, and that another piece to that puzzle is coordinating with community groups who already spend much of their free time volunteering to advocate for local recreational spaces – people like the Friends of Salter Grove, the Conimicut Village Association and the Friends of Pawtuxet Village – to create a centralized hub of recreation-minded individuals to work with the department towards improving parks and recreation sites citywide.

“What I’ve discovered going out and meeting with these groups, brainstorming with these groups, there’s so much good work being done in Warwick but it’s not all being worked together,” Scott said. “So, it’s a good investment to kind of have a structure to these groups. We want an organization that can be nimble, that can act as a nexus between the city and the community.”

Solomon said that the relationship between DPW and parks and recreation will remain, and will be seen in how they work together to accomplish projects.

“But I can tell you, we’ve all been working well together to save money just by crossing the lines and inter-use of resources within departments, interdepartmental use of resources,” he said. “And it’s faster and more cost-efficient. The ultimate beneficiaries are the users and the taxpayers. And it works.”

As for rumors that Scott, who is married to Solomon’s niece, got the job due to that familial relationship with Solomon, the mayor stood by his hire.

“There’s nothing within the ethics commission that indicates that he's…it’s not nepotism at all. If you look at the nepotism clause, you'll see he's not my second cousin, he's not my third cousin, in fact we don't even share ethnic backgrounds,” Solomon said. “I placed great thought into who I would put in that position and I selected James. And I’m very happy with my selection. And contrary to rumors of every sort and everything, which I try not to listen to, he’s very qualified.”

Scott was born in Middletown and was an assistant principal within the Providence School Department. He was formerly a teacher and a coach, and volunteered to work on Solomon’s mayoral campaign. He said the opportunity to become parks and recreation director in Warwick was something he couldn’t pass up.

“While I was happy with my former job, this opportunity to come in and rebuild something from scratch was really something I couldn’t turn down,” he said. “I came in and it’s been a sprint since then. No regrets. He’s [Solomon] a great boss. He's always looking for quality and performance and I just look forward to the challenge and I hope we can do some good work in the next couple of years.”

Comments

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Get Real

So nepotism had nothing to do with this. Who are you kidding ??? It was the only reason he got the job. Scott is paid $100k which is $15k more than the previous director.

After reviewing his previous posted resume, Scott had no work experience in this field. BTW was the job even posted ?

So he has no background for the job but we pay him $100k.

Watch out at next budget hearing Solomon will propose a $20k raise for this position.

Solomon is making Avedisian look like a tightwad with the taxpayers money.

Tuesday, June 18
Janet Hartman

In regards to the story about the new Dir. of Parks & Recreation:

I noted several organizations were mentioned toward the end of the article. It seems that either the reporter or the new Director is still confused about our local organizations in Pawtuxet Village. The Pawtuxet Village Association is the group that coordinated the spring clean up in the park and we thank the new Dir. for attending. Pawtuxet Village Association was responsible for turning the parcel into a park years ago... and we continue to tend gardens and add funding to its care. We would welcome an opportunity to meet with everyone to help clarify who all the local groups are and what they contribute to our community. Pawtuxet Village is fortunate to have hundreds of volunteers annually, and PVA has been part of that since 1973.

I hope we are not overlooked in future articles as we were here as well as the articles about the spring clean up.

Janet Hartman

Tuesday, June 18
Flexi-Bull

The article states “There is no increase in overall staffing”. This guy is brand new to the city. Meaning he was added. He was a teacher, so that makes him qualified to be a city director. Unreal

Tuesday, June 18
Fed up

Where does his resume indicate any experience as a parks and rec director?

City of Warwick

Dates Employed Dec 2018 – Present

Employment Duration 7 mos

Location Providence, Rhode Island Area

Providence Public Schools

Company Name Providence Public Schools

Total Duration 4 yrs 5 mos

Title Assistant Principal

Dates Employed Jul 2016 – Nov 2018

Employment Duration 2 yrs 5 mos

Location Providence, Rhode Island - Elementary Zone

Managed school operations including: school safety, discipline, academics, employee evaluation, parent engagement, and compliance.

Title Acting Assistant Principal

Dates Employed Aug 2015 – Jun 2016

Employment Duration 11 mos

Location Providence, Rhode Island - Gilbert Stuart Middle School

Managed daily operations, including entrance, passing time, lunch and dismissal in a large urban middle school with over 900 students and 70 faculty members.

Worked with leadership team to implement organizational changes including: creating a... See more

Title ELA Teacher Leader

Dates Employed Jul 2014 – Aug 2015

Employment Duration 1 yr 2 mos

Location Providence, Rhode Island - Providence Career & Technical Academy

Helped administration implement a systems level approach to teaching, learning and assessment.

Provided instructional coaching, logistical and administrative support to other faculty members.

Cultivated a culture of data driven instruction within the ELA Department.

Coordinated and improved the PBGR project through a series of process improvements, and led remediation process for non-proficient seniors

Tuesday, June 18
Scal1024

Open mouth, insert foot, REPEAT...

Tuesday, June 18
Patient Man

Hopefully this will get the recreation & parks in better shape. Of course it was nepotism. Why does someone that has been a politician for 2 decades give such a bumbling answer. He could have said "yes, James is married to my niece which is how I came to know him. Of course, I can see how people would think it is nepotism, but he truly is the best candidate for the job. Sure, it's BS but it's better than stuttering like an idiot. Wouldn't a job like that have to be posted?

Married to his niece & volunteered on his reelection campaign. ROFLMAO

Tuesday, June 18
TPC

This is ludicrous. Does Joe think we’re stupid or does he simply not give a crap?

Without exaggeration I can think of at least a dozen people who are extremely qualified for this position. And no, I’m not just talking about people that have coached a sport for a season or two. People with degrees in Sports Management from an accredited College like myself (with concentrations in Facility Management). And yes, I was also a coach! People who have dedicated years of their lives to the youth and the City by volunteering their time running sports organizations such as soccer clubs, little leagues and so on.

What an absolute joke.

Tuesday, June 18
Clean It Up

Married to Solomon's niece & volunteered on Solomon's reelection campaign. ROFLMAO

exactly

AND gets a BIG RAISE at teh same time.

Time to clean this city up and start restructuring everything.

Tuesday, June 18
justanidiot

furst big plan is to find out what a recreational director does. he has checked out the entire series from the liberry and is plannings to binge watches it

Tuesday, June 18
Spineless Warwick wake up

Well, just proves the mayor will do as he wishes. How many will he fire or push out to make room for his nepotism? Warwick just sits back and takes it time and time again. What about the Warwick employee that worked his way up and now gets passed over by this D-bag wannabe mayor? Warwick needs a spine.

Tuesday, June 18
Vacancy: no application needed.

I’d like to know how many positions the mayor has filled since taking office. What happed to the last guy and who he filled the position with.

Tuesday, June 18
PaulHuff

“He’s totally unqualified for the job but hey....it skirts the definition of nepotism”.

This city is so screwed.

Tuesday, June 18
Daydreambeliever

Fed Up and Patientman and to all who care.our Mayor does what he wants it's that apparent. He must think we aren't paying attention.

We will decide his fate at the next election. He is sabotaging his own son's political career as people usually connect the names and vote accordingly.

You question did the Mayor post and interview for parks and recreation ? The answer is no he appointed family.

Did he post and interview for the Board of Public Safety ? No he appointed family.

Did he post and interview for the Chief of the Fire Department? No he appointed but I'm unsure of the connection. I've heard he's related by marriage but not positive.

As you can see he does what he wants and takes care of the family now that's an eye opener.

Wednesday, June 19
Hillsgrove Hal

I agree with many of the points made by others here. Solomon is showing his true colors, and unless voters do something about it next year, he will continue to get away with it.

What's most troubling to me is that Solomon was considered the best candidate for mayor.

(I didn't consider the Republican candidate to be the better option, to be honest; clearly, most voters felt the same way as I did.)

But now that he's been in office for a year, we have to ask ourselves: Is he really the best that Warwick could do?

I hope that voters keep that question (and its obvious answer: No) in their heads when they vote next year.

Wednesday, June 19
Patient Man

Hal,

At least in Warwick the Mayor has a 2 year term.

Wednesday, June 19
Hillsgrove Hal

Patient man, I agree. Let's count our blessings, however small.

Wednesday, June 19
Clean It Up

Rob "The Captain" Cote for mayor!

Thursday, June 20
Captain Rob

I would love to Clean it up, but I’m too busy following fire trucks around and driving in my car with no pants on.

Thursday, June 20
justanidiot

know moneys for sports but day ken hire new peeple at cities hall. why is warwick broke and going down hill?

Thursday, June 20
wwkvoter

"This isn’t simply a reflection of his oft-spoken affinity for the city he resides over as mayor"

What is with the arousal the Beacon always has for whomever is mayor? "affinity" would mean PROTECTING THE FINANCIAL FUTURE of Warwick, not destroying it.

Sunday, June 23