Longtime parks commissioner resigns

January 31, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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After nearly nine years of service as a member of the Parks Commission, Andrew Shelton resigned from his post at the group’s Jan. 9 meeting.

Shelton’s term was set to expire in September 2013, but the resignation is effective immediately after he seized a new job opportunity that will transport his family to Billings, Mont.

Andrew Shelton

Andrew Shelton

“You know, we will certainly miss Newcastle,” he said. “My wife grew up in Newcastle way back before it was Newcastle and I grew up in Kirkland, so we are locals. I just didn’t have the luxury of time to serve out the remainder of the term, unfortunately.”

Shelton has served on the Parks Commission since its inception. While the duties of the commission have changed over the years, he said he was proud of all the board has accomplished.

He highlighted the opening of Windtree Park and the Newcastle summer staple, Concerts in the Park, as the commission’s more illustrious accomplishments during his time.

Windtree Park opened in late 2008 after several years of planning. The Parks Commission set the groundwork for the park, working closely with the designer and the neighborhood to formulate a recommended plan to present to the City Council.

“I think, in the end, that neighborhood got almost exactly the park that they wanted,” Shelton said. “I think the process really worked well and we have something that will be around for a long, long time.”

The idea for Concerts in the Park came up in the early years of the commission’s existence, but the popular summer series at Lake Boren Park continues to this day.

“I can’t believe how quickly it took off and how it’s become just a major part of people’s summers,” Shelton said. “It’s a fun time for people to get together and to visit with neighbors and with other people from Newcastle.”

Mayor Rich Crispo commended Shelton’s work on the commission and wished him well on his new venture.

“Anybody that is willing to put in the time that he has, I’m real supportive of that, I think it’s terrific,” he said. “It’s not easy to get volunteers that are willing to stay around for a long period of time and provide some continuity for the city, so I thank him for that.”

Before he begins the process of appointing a new commissioner to replace Shelton, Crispo said he expects the City Council to take a closer look at the current structure and responsibilities of the Parks Commission to determine whether any reorganization needs to take place.

Volunteers for the Parks Commission do not come easily, Shelton said, but he encouraged Newcastle citizens to get involved and make an impact on the community.

“I think what I’ll miss the most is that in a small way, what we do, what we did, quite often had positive impacts on the lives of our citizens,” he said. “Should we come back to Newcastle, we’ll be able to go to a Concert in the Park and say, ‘I remember when we created this.’ People probably won’t believe me when I say I was part of it, but it will be neat to be able to say that.”

The Parks Commission is comprised of seven community members who volunteer their time to serve as an advisory body to the City Council about issues pertaining to parks, trails, recreation programs and special community events.

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