Austin community questions how the city is operating following Dave Merrill’s resignation

(ABC 6 News) – There was a lot of support for the former parks and recreation director, people said Merrill clearly cared about the city and they believe the city needs to reevaluate the way it’s operating.

Merrill has been outspoken about conflicts he’s dealt with, much of it surrounds how operations are run between the city and the park board.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, people addressed it.

A charter is a document that defines an organization’s powers, functions, and procedures.

At issue is the difference between the city charter and the park board’s charter and who should answer to who.

“This is a dirty town, this is a corrupt town,” former city council member John Martin said.

Martin was one of a number of people who addressed their concerns to the council members about the problems highlighted by the former parks and rec director.

Martin believes the city needs more accountability.

“We need people to speak up, don’t fear losing your job because that’s retaliation you know there’s laws against that kind of stuff.”

The City of Austin wants to assure the community they are making steps in the right direction.

The city council and the park board worked with the League of Minnesota Cities to increase the understanding of how the two operate effectively.

“From that discussion, the city adopted new procedures to clarify and ensure park board requests will receive fair consideration, as well as getting better understanding of the concerns and working together going forward,” Mayor Steve King said.

As the search for a new parks and rec director continues, the city wants to focus on the future.

“We can finally get back to talking about how do we benefit the overall City of Austin and how do we make park and rec as good as it can be instead of worrying about personality conflicts,” councilmember Jason Baskin said.

The city will take the community’s comments into consideration when searching for a new parks and rec director, they hope to have the position filled by the end of October.