Russellville approves school district to run and maintain city parks

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. – There were plenty of fired up neighbors in Russellville on Monday evening. Neighbors are upset with the city’s plan to let the school district run the city parks, which would fire the Parks and Recreation staff.

“The revenue is not as strong as it’s always been,” Russellville City Schools superintendent Heath Grimes said.

A new parks proposal in Russellville made for a packed city hall on Monday evening.

“For the city workers of Russellville to be able to keep their jobs,” Russellville resident Hollie Rice said.

City and school leaders proposed a five-year agreement to allow Russellville City Schools to run and maintain the city parks, but it would effectively fire every parks worker in town.

“We just think the relationship we have with parks and rec now, so many of our coaches have children. As parents, they’re going to be involved anyway,” Grimes said.

Despite a standing room only crowd, the council didn’t invite public input and passed the agreement unanimously.

“I don’t think the meeting was run properly. I think the people of Russellville should’ve been able to voice their opinion,” Rice said.

Russellville has seven full-time parks employees who are now no longer employed by the city. The city parks director told WHNT News 19 he plans to retire. The other workers plan to meet with school leaders on Tuesday morning to find out their next move.

“They would apply with us and there’s no doubt some of those employees would be retained,” Grimes said.

Grimes says there won’t be any added fees with the changeover, nor would it affect kids access to after school activities.

The five-year contract takes effect on August 6th.

Superintendent Grimes says the city will continue to own the parks. And he says Russellville high schoolers will help maintain the parks with a turf management program at the school.

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