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Mayor Appoints New Commissioner of Parks Recreation and Youth: Meet Mr. Baye Muhammad

Mayor Stephanie Miner has appointed Baye pronounced (bey-yeh)Muhammad, 38, as Commissioner of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs, effective Jan. 18, 2011

“I am thrilled to welcome Baye to our team,” Mayor Miner said. “He has a deep background in constituent service and working with youth, understands the needs and challenges of the Syracuse community and is committed to providing excellent customer service. I am confident he will provide the leadership the Parks Department needs.”

Muhammad inherits a department that has the task of providing much more than the department title suggests. Aquatics, Adult Athletics, Dog Control, Forestry, Golf, Ice Skating, Planning and Development, Senior Recreation Programs, Special Events and Youth Recreation Programs, 172 municipally owned and maintained parks, fields, inactive cemeteries, medians/traffic islands (most of which are landscaped and contribute to neighborhood greenspace), and natural areas.

Muhammad is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia, with a degree in political science. In 2002, Muhammad became an outreach and admissions counselor with Job Corps, where he recruited and counseled youth with the goal of helping them obtain a high school diploma, GED or vocational training.

In 2007, Muhammad became regional coordinator for the department of minority information services for the New York State Senate Minority Conference. In that role, he conducted issue research and analyzed legislative proposals as to how they impacted communities in Upstate New York. Muhammad became regional director for the New York State Senate Majority Conference in Central New York in 2009.

In 2010, Muhammad was promoted to upstate director of the New York State Senate for the department of majority information services. In this role, he is responsible for managing regional offices in Buffalo and Syracuse.

In his role in the New York State Senate, Muhammad helped secure funding for the Operation Snug anti-gun violence prevention initiative in the cities of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Muhammad currently serves on the Joint Schools Construction Board. He has volunteered with the project “Helping to Empower Incarcerated Young People” through the Onondaga County Justice Center and with Jazz in the City.

Muhammad strikes a cautious yet confident tone in his assessment of the job that lies ahead, “I’m going to try hard, I know the country and the state, we’re dealing with some tough times but we’re going to be aggressive in trying to find different avenues rather then waiting around to see what our part of the state budget will be, we have to take that extra step.”

In dealing with youth the new commissioner is clearly concerned, “It’s a complex problem there are so many different entities involved with raising children. I believe the village has broken down, because you have uncles that are absent aunts that are gone, everybody’s like ‘well that’s your problem’ I didn’t grow up in a society like that. I think that’s what’s missing.”

On taking on the responsibilities of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs the new Commissioner emphasizes the importance of the delivery of services the department provides, “Our responsibility is huge when it comes to providing services, but I think with that I would like to get parents more involved in the responsibility part.”

“I’ve worked with children I have children so you can have a child for six, eight hours they’re great. Fine, but that child still has to go home into whatever environment there is and if it’s not positive then they have to adapt to that environment. They have to adapt to the environment that they’re in.”

“What I’d like to do is have children tell us what they want in their park.” Muhammad explains how he believes in “wrap-around” services which include parents in the park as important as the participation of the child. Pausing and perhaps thinking out loud he continues, “How can we bring families together …even if families aren’t together how can we come together for the children?

During his first two weeks on the job Mr. Muhammad hit the ground running holding meetings with different divisions and getting to know staff, he’s reportedly doing a lot of listening.

When asked what would he have to say to the residents of Syracuse, ” I thank the mayor for this appointment and the challenge that I’m going to have. I would ask the public to be patient, to be involved, be involved in your parks to always be involved in some way.”

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