I have noticed an abundance of posts on social media criticizing our Parks and Recreation Dept. in Walton County. I visited some of the parks in our area, and made my own observations. I also had the opportunity to visit a handful of these parks with Shane Supple (Director) and Joe Honish (North Walton Recreations Coordinator). During our visits we were able to discuss completed projects, items currently being worked on, future projects, challenges faced by staff, and actionable solutions to some of those challenges.
Walton County is home to 47 parks, sports complexes, pocket parks, boat ramps, and more covering 300+ acres spread out across the county (NOT including Eagle Springs in Defuniak). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Walton county has a total area of 1,240 square miles, of which 1,038 square miles is land. The county is one of the largest in area in the state, stretching from the Alabama state line to the Emerald Coast. All of these parks are currently maintained by just 16 employees.
While it is easy to see some of the issues that need attention and items in our parks that need to be repaired, removed, or replaced, it is also important to notice all of the work that HAS been accomplished with a limited staff covering a very large area. From my experience, there is a fine line between holding staff accountable and constantly berating them while ignoring their accomplishments.
We need to hold our Walton County employees accountable for performing their jobs. We ALSO need to recognize the challenges they face and put processes in place that help them perform to our expectations. We also need to address the lack of staff to maintain these recreational areas.
My next post will be on Eagle Springs Golf and Recreation Park. Stay tuned!