A member of the Smithfield town council has called for the firing of the towns parks and recreation director. During Tuesday night’s council meeting, Town Councilman Marlon Lee asked newly hired town manager Michael Scott to fire parks and recreation director Gary Johnson.
Lee, who represents East Smithfield, said when he was first elected 3 years ago East Smithfield had numerous needs for parks and recreation. He said the town had closed the community pool in his underserved neighborhood and was neglecting the Smith Collins Park. Lee said Johnson recently called the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center the “crown jewel” and said he took offense to the statement.
Lee said during the current budget process, he realized nothing was changing and East Smithfield would continue to be neglected. Lee said a simple attempt to get Johnson or the town to purchase a pool cover to go over the closed swimming pool was something he couldn’t get funded, yet he recently heard the Parks & Recreation Department needed to find a place to spend $8,000 before the end of the fiscal year onJune 30th.
The councilman said many of the elected leaders in Smithfield were quick to rise up and complain about the status of the Smithfield area school system. He asked his fellow council members to rise up and take the parks and recreation department in a new direction that would be fair and equitable to all sections of Smithfield.
The town manager did not respond to Councilman Lee’s request to fire the director Tuesday night, but in an email to WTSB News on Wednesday said, “I will be meeting with Councilman Lee this week to discuss this with him and gain a full understanding of the issues involved. All other matters regarding this subject are personnel matters so I cannot discuss it further.”
WTSB News reached the parks and recreation director at his office Wednesday afternoon where Johnson declined to comment.