GREENVILLE — Physically it was just a move upstairs, but in actuality the combining of the Greenville Recreation Department and the Greenville Area Community Center under one office was far more than that.
In an effort to reduce costs and increase convenience, the city decided to move the recreation department from the basement of the community centers to the main level and combine the two staffs.
Kris Berry, who previously was director of the recreation department only, took over in summer of 2012 as director of the community center as well. The move was a precursor to the recent merger of the two programs, she said. It was a way for her to get to know the community center and how it operated.
During the lull in action between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the two departments were officially combined when the recreation department moved in.
“We decided it was advantageous to merge the two departments, the most important reason being making it more convenient for customers,” Berry said. “The other reason is to make better use of our resources.”
The two budgets are still separate, but there is one staff manning both programs.
“It just didn’t make sense anymore, especially with budgets being tight,” said Berry of running the two programs separately.
Previously, each department had one programmer and one administrative assistant, along with Berry as director. The similar positions worked separately from each other, but with the merger, they will be putting their heads together.
The two administrative assistants will be trained under both programs and the programmers, who spent a good portion of their time with daily activities instead of being able to focus on programs, will be able to shift their focus back to their priority.
“They can focus on creating and improving programs, which is the biggest thing,” Berry said. “We really hope to see more programs go through, especially with the community center.”
And not only will the programming benefit, Berry said, but the combination means a partnership across the board for the two organizations, something that may have been lacking before.
“There was that gap of collaboration of the two centers,” Berry said.
Greenville City Manager George Bosanic said he felt the two programs under the same guidance of Berry will be successful.
“Kris has very good skills at streamlining and creating efficiencies,” he said.
And with the two groups in the same office, she added it will expedite the process for those visiting both offices.
“I do think in the long run it will be better for the community,” she said.
But there will still be growing pains along the way, she said. The busy season (early spring) has yet to hit and Berry said staff is already preparing.
“We had no idea of the learning curve,” Berry said, adding the staff is adapting very well. “Right now we’re really focusing on that cross training.”