Reneau looks back on 18 years as Park Director

Posted September 13, 2017 at 8:47 am

Bobby Reneau.psd

Former park director Bobby R. Reneau resigned effective August 31, but in so doing, took a lot of memories with him from not only the past 18 years he served as director of Mt. View Park, but the total 19 years on the current board–as well as being a member on the original board that was formed in the late 1980s and later disbanded, prior to the current board make-up being put together in 1998.

Reneau, now 60, also retired from his position with the Clinton County Schools as bus driver for 20 years, ceasing both jobs due to recent health issues.

The former park director, who became only the second director after Greg Abston was originally appointed in 1998 and served just under a year, remembers tremendous changes and almost unbelievable progress and additions to the park, especially over the past few years considering the current economic conditions.

There are a couple of things Reneau is sure about as well, the thing he will miss the most about the park director job is the kids. “I like to be around people anyway, but kids are pretty special,” said the grandfather of five. He said he loved seeing the smiles on their faces and many of them wanted to “pitch in and help” do something and he would let them help out.

The job as park director, despite the perception some may have unless that have to do the actual hands on work and daily grind, is more involved than many know. Reneau said just how busy the job can be most times depends on what time of year it is, noting naturally early spring through early fall are the busiest seasons.

Reneau recalls when he first began in 1999, there were railroad ties around the parking lot that had to be straightened up about every morning and, for example, if a tree blows down, it has to be cut up and hauled off.

The spring and summer season entails mowing, weed eating, trash pick-up, keeping dugouts, restrooms and bleachers cleaned, just to name a few. And some of that work is required year round, including maintaining the grounds, and buildings such as picnic tables and Farmers Market building.

Reneau also recalled that at one time, special events were huge and helped raise money for the park when board members had time to operate concessions themselves and prior to the bypass being built.

Although the 127 Yard Sale is still ongoing and still helps make the park some annual revenue, it generates less than half the proceeds it did just a decade ago and Reneau also recalled when Little League opening day was also a “huge event,” but has gone down in participation somewhat in the past few years.

Another progressive item Reneau puts at the top as being most proud of seeing since he became park director is the addition of the children’s playground, including the recently added toddler playground. “That (playground) to me is the most major improvement we have made over the years,” said Reneau. “You would have to drive for miles to find a park that has one any better,” he said.

The playground is just one of many additions to the park over the past two decades. “When I first started, there were no fences, the Marlow Building and the parking lot was still gravel,” he recalls. “Also, the walking track was of rough surface blacktop.”

Now, the park has new buildings, the Farmers’ Market, new parking lot, dugouts, bleachers and the all-purpose field that is used for many sporting activities. There are also new picnic tables and water fountains adorning the park and the walking track has been repaved with softer material twice in the last few years.

Reneau continued that the new playground, which was aided tremendously by the Healthy Hometown Coalition in obtaining grant funds for the project and many local volunteers who had a work day to construct the playground, is heavily used by hundreds of children of all ages on a regular basis.

Another large project that took place several years ago, and again was a joint effort by many, was the new lighting system at the park, at a cost of close to $130,000 Reneau noted that project was a joint effort with the Empowerment Zone, South Kentucky RECC, county and city, the Little League, state grants and even local contributions.

Reneau has worked alongside several different board members and four chairmen, including Steve Peddicord, who was the first chairman of the board. He was followed by Chris Lovelace, who served the longest in that capacity, followed by Vince Ostertag, who served until early this year, and current chairman Wayne Glover.

“All the board members and chairmen, past and present, were always good to work with,” said Reneau.

Now that Reneau is no longer park board director, he does have a couple of concerns, including the need for equipment. He noted the park needed a good mower, a tractor with a front-end loader and a utility vehicle, weed sprayers, and so forth.

“Now that we have such a beautiful park with a lot to offer, the board needs the equipment to maintain it,” Reneau said, adding another concern was finances, due to the economy, the constant expenses such as utilities, etc., and cost of maintenance, with little cash flow coming in.

Another area of concern is the lack of space at the park. In other words, the park is about full-up with little room for expansion of any kind. Reneau said he would love to see the school system donate the area between the current Annex building and the park. “Right now, we have no more room for expansion,” he added.

Reneau was an original member of the first park board that was formed in the late 1980s when Larry Hatfield was Clinton County Judge/Executive. The late former CCHS basketball coach Lindle Castle was the chairman of that board and Reneau still remembers most of the members. However, the board disbanded a few years later, but soon the current existing board was reformed under the late Charlene King’s administration.

“Beginning with almost nothing, we built a pretty nice park that is one of the most used facilities in the county–especially the walking track,” said Reneau.

Although he apologized if leaving someone out for their contributions to the park, Reneau did name a few entities that, without their help, the park could not have became what it is today. To name a few, the park boards, county and city government, school district, Healthy Hometown Coalition, Clinton County Extension Service, BRIGHT program (part of the school district that helped construct the new buildings at the park), Little League baseball volunteers, such as those who help pick up trash and keep the park clean, put together the playground equipment and other projects, anyone who has made monetary contributions and especially park patrons who use the park, as well as law enforcement who help make sure the park and its patrons are kept safe…and anyone else that may not have been mentioned.

Reneau concluded by noting that the local Recreation Park Board was somewhat unique and still may be the only one in the state that was created by and operated through three local government entities, the Clinton County Fiscal Court, Albany City Council and Clinton County Board of Education.

“Thanks to all (park) board members, county judges and fiscal court magistrates, mayors, city council members, (school) superintendents and board members, and anyone else who has made contributions, for what they have done.

“All of us should look back and lbe proud at what we have (at the park) thanks to all of them,” Reneau concluded.