August 5, 2014 10:31:56 AM
The Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority board of directors meet monthly in a small conference room at Propst Park. These are generally low-profile meetings. There are eight chairs for visitors placed along two walls of the small room, but they are usually unoccupied. There is rarely any media at these meetings.
Monday night was an exception. There were as many media members (six) as there were board members, even though there was nothing controversial on the agenda.
The agenda did contain one unusual item, however, and that explained the sudden interest of the media.
"Item No. 8 says I am retiring," CLRA executive director Roger Short told the board member. It came as no surprise to the board. "I just wanted to make it official."
Board attorney Will Cooper was the first to respond.
"We might not let you," Cooper said, chuckling. "We have to vote to accept your resignation and maybe we'll just decide not to vote."
Short was ready for that, of course.
"I don't know if you get a vote on that," he said. "It's that time. It's been fun. I've loved it."
Short, who will be 65 years old in December, will stay on until Dec. 31, a date that will mark the end of a 25-year career with the CLRA, the last 12 as its executive director.
During the meeting, board members used the meeting to express their appreciation for Short's service.
Of course, Short will best be remembered as the driving force behind the $5 million Columbus Soccer Complex, although he is quick to deflect praise.
"It wasn't all me," he said. 'I just happened to be at the forefront at the time. An awful lot of folks deserve credit for that."
Anyone familiar with how the soccer complex evolved will likely not that it was Short would supplied the vision and who persistently championed the project for the five years it took to go from idea to reality.
The Columbus Soccer Complex rightfully stands as the crescendo of Short's tenure at CLRA.
But board members were quick to point out that, from the start, Short was a strong advocate for his department. Even in lean years, he got things done.
"From the start, every year, we did a little something," said board president Scott Hannon. "You were always looking for ways to improve our facilities and our programs."
Short said that for most of his time as director, funding was limited and managing the funds was one of his major priorities.
"Up until the soccer complex happened, we really had never had any money for capital improvements," he said. "But even so, we were able to get some things done. Some of the most popular things we've done have been small projects, like the spray parks, the dog park and the disc golf course. When I started, we would never have imagined having those kinds of things."
In his 25 years, Short said he has worked under 20 CLRA board of directors, six mayors, three board attorneys and an undetermined number of city council members and county supervisors.
It hasn't always been easy, nor was it always harmonious, but it was always respectful and constructive.
The Columbus Soccer Complex bears witness to Short's effectiveness as director and while 25 years is not an extraordinary length of service, what the CLRA has accomplished over that quarter-century certainly is.
It's the kind of career that gets your name on a building.
Meanwhile, the next phase of the work at the Columbus Soccer Complex is a playground.
It doesn't have a name as of yet.
But we can offer one very good suggestion.
1. Our View: City needs consistent approach to festival beer sales DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Froma Harrop: Who are these outlaw bikers? NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Lynn Spruill: Memorial Day LOCAL COLUMNS
5. Susan Estrich: The graduates NATIONAL COLUMNS