Last year at this time, the city of Watertown's parks and recreations department was a mess. Poor management led to the city failing to collect tens of thousands of dollars in bills from local sports teams and groups. But since, the department has been revamped and as Brian Dwyer reports it means some new rules, specifically teams have to pay before they can play.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- 2011 wasn't pretty.
An audit on the Watertown Parks and Rec department showed some serious issues. It was mainly the failure to collect tens of thousands of dollars in bills sent to teams and groups who use the city's fairground facilities.
It led to a complete overhaul. There's new staff, a new superintendent and new rules.
Teams that want to play, must first pay.
"If you start from the beginning by collecting the money, you don't have to deal with that. So far we haven't had to deal WIth that. Our policy is if you don't pay you don't play," Superintendent Erin Gardner said.
"I don't think that's unreasonable," Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham added. "Any number of things in life you pay for ahead of time. We don't want to be running around trying to collect things after everybody's gone home for the season."
The change comes at a time the city is finalizing next season's contracts with its three biggest teams.
The Watertown Red & Black, the Watertown Rams, who used to be known as the Wizards,
and the new team in town, the 1000 Islands Privateers.
This new rule is a change, but one that allows everyone a fresh start.
"It's been harmonious," Rams Owner Todd Kirkey said about working the overhauled department. "Now we have a good contract in place. They're happy. We're happy. It's our job to fulfill it and we'll talk about the future at the end of the year."
"We're very comfortable with all the terms in the contract," Privateers Owner Nicole Kirnan added. "We're just looking forward to getting it done in the next week or so."
"It really hasn't been that difficult," Gardner says of the cooperation. "We've just requested it and people have been doing it."
Another step in getting the department back on track.
The Red & Black and the Rams have officially finalized their deals. The Privateers are hoping theirs could be done Monday.