Columbus Parks Board Seeks To Move Past Controversy

The parks board has been at odds with Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown after she demoted the parks director to marketing coordinator last December.

Columbus park

Photo: Dave Emerson (Flickr)

Columbus park board members say they want to continue their regular business and move forward on upgrades that are needed at park facilities.

Columbus Parks Board members say they’re trying to move past a recent controversy over its former parks director so they can continue day-to-day operations.

The board is holding a regularly scheduled meeting tomorrow and parks members say they do not plan to get into any political conflicts.

Late last year, Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown demoted then-parks director Ben Wagner to marketing coordinator. Since then, the parks board and some city council members have challenged her reasons for the demotion, saying her claims that Wagner mishandled the budget and improperly used city credit cards are unfounded.

Parks board Vice President Mary Tucker says the board wants to move forward on projects that have been sitting idle, including renovations to the Donner Aquatic Center’s roof.

“It is horrible,” Tucker says. “It used to just leak, but now it rains. It absolutely pours rain, and if you look around in each room, almost all of them have buckets to catch rain from the roof.”

But Tucker says board member David Jones—who Brown appointed shortly after she demoted the parks director—has said he wants to wait on any major projects until the department has a new director.

Tucker says that goes against what the majority of the parks board wants.

“Our goal, and I can speak for three of us, is to make sure that the parks board functions as normal so that the community won’t know that there is a problem going on,” Tucker says.

Columbus Parks Board member Nancy Ann Brown said she had a “good discussion” with Mayor Brown earlier this week, but the board is not ready to address the larger issues at its meeting tomorrow.

Neither the mayor nor David Jones returned calls for comment.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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