Taxpayer money down the toilet at Rec Dept.

At first we questioned whether taxpayers’ money was going down the drain in the Recreation Department.

Now it’s fair to say our tax money is also going down the toilet, thanks to the management “skills” – and we use that term loosely — of Recreation Director Craig Daniels.

Before we go on, let’s say this upfront: We believe there should be a Recreation Department and that kids enjoy the programs. We just think that our tax money can be better spent.

And we also believe that Daniels should be held accountable for how he spends our money. Unfortunately, Daniels is either saying he does not owe the public an explanation or when he does talk, he doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

We first started digging around on how our money is being spent when a new splash pad was installed at Pulaski Park. It’s a great idea and an inexpensive way for the public to beat the heat.

But this is Hamtramck and sometimes in Hamtramck things aren’t all they seem cracked up to be. First off, Daniels spent about twice as much per square foot compared to other communities that installed a pad. Hamtramck taxpayers were hit up for $115,000 for a 900-square foot splash pad.

What made this project so costly was Daniel’s decision to have it recycle water, which requires expensive machinery. Most other communities just use fresh water and let the water drain off. That method is far less expensive and won’t lead to the inevitable breakdown of machinery.

But beside the cost, what was truly an insult to injury was Daniels’ strange restrictive hours of operation he imposed on the splash pad. He limited its use to the general public to only four hours per day, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Want to cool off from the maddening hot sun at 1 p.m.? Sorry, forget it. It makes you want to scream out, TURN IT ON, NOW!

It also makes you wonder why Daniels even bothered to build the damn thing if no one can use it during the day. Hence our wondering if taxpayers’ money went down the drain.

That strange management philosophy seems to be a pattern with Daniels because next up was what must be the world’s most expensive restroom. Daniels spent $52,000 of taxpayer money to build a restroom at the ballpark at Playfair Field. Hey, at that price the toilets better be gold-plated, eh?

And what did taxpayers get actually? Well, there is one toilet for men and one toilet for women.

And once again, to add insult to injury, good luck trying to use it. The restroom is kept locked up and only opened for scheduled games. What does that amount to, maybe 20-40 times of the year?

When we called Daniels for an explanation, he actually agreed to talk to us (unlike the time we tried to get information about the splash pad). Daniels insisted the restrooms are open during the day, seven days a week.

After talking with him we left the office immediately to check to see if the restrooms were open. They were not open. The next day the Recreation Department hosted a Junior Olympics at Keyworth Stadium, which is next to the restrooms and guess what? The restrooms were still locked – and Daniels was at the event.

So, what’s with that?

Who knows, but one thing is clear, the $1 million a year the Recreation Department collects from a special property tax needs a better manager.

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