New city recreation and parks chief named

Appointee has been charged with improving the department

April 13, 2010|By Julie Scharper The Baltimore Sun

A former Montgomery County recreation official will take the reins at the city's beleaguered Recreation and Parks department, officials announced Tuesday.

Gregory A. Bayor, who oversaw special events and cultural programs for Montgomery County for over a decade, was appointed permanent director of the city's recreation and parks department by Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake.

Bayor, who starts immediately, will be charged with improving programming and crafting a strategic plan for the department, which came under fire for a lack of leadership and transparency by a volunteer transition team appointed by Rawlings-Blake.

"We will no longer accept mediocrity or the status quo," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

Bayor, who lead the Montgomery department under former County Executive Douglas Duncan, has most recently headed the Cecil County's Senior Services Community Transit program. A University of Baltimore alumnus, he serves as President of its Board of Governors.

The recreation and parks department, which saw its budget slashed by a third in a preliminary budget scenario, has been led by 14 directors or interim directors in the past two decades. The department's management of capital funds for building and renovations has been sharply criticized by the transition team and Councilman Carl Stokes.

Earlier this month, the parks department inflamed some Federal Hill residents by allowing Under Armour to paint its logo on the historic hill.

Dwayne B. Thomas, who served as interim director of Recreation and Parks since the fall, took responsibility for the decision to allow the company to paint the hill.

The Montgomery recreation department received national accreditation under Bayor's leadership in 2004. The leaders of the city's parks and recreation advisory board have stated that they hope the department will be accredited, which would hold recreation leaders and programs to high standards.

A number of the city's 55 recreation centers have been targeted for closure due to declining attendance and a lack of organized programs, according to officials. The department's budget has been repeatedly cut and the number of recreation centers has been winnowed by two-thirds in the past few decades.

If the council passes a package of taxes and fees, all city recreation centers will stay open through the summer, but some will be closed in the fall.

On Monday, City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young created a Recreation and Parks subcommittee and appointed Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo its chair.

Rawlings-Blake also appointed David Ralph to serve as deputy city solicitor Tuesday. Ralph, the current head of the city's litigation department, oversees all high-profile suits against the city.

He replaces deputy city solicitor Donald Huskey, who is retiring. Huskey has also served on the city's ethics board.


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