01/26/07 — Reaction mixed to park plan

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Reaction mixed to park plan

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 26, 2007 1:50 PM

Rhonda Philips and her 5-year-old daughter, Kendra, never miss a sunny day at Herman Park.

Something about watching her little girl climb higher in the air with each push she gives the swing brings them closer together, she said.

"She loves it here," Ms. Philips said. "We live so close, we can just walk when the weather's nice."

Some Goldsboro residents said they are more than satisfied with parks that already exist in the city and cannot understand why officials intend to put their tax dollars into a revamped Stoney Creek Park.

"I don't think it should happen," Ms. Philips said. "The kids have plenty of room to run and play here. Another park is nice, but it's a waste of money."

Across town at Berkeley Park, David Sutton and his two sons throw the baseball around a few times a week -- even when it's cold outside.

"I've been trying to teach them the basics," Sutton said, hurling the ball across the field toward his 6- and 8-year-old. "Not many people come out here. We like the quiet and the privacy."

Sutton has mixed feelings about the Stoney Creek Park plan.

"I think a place with a nice big water feature would be great for fishing with the boys," he said. "At the same time, a park right in the middle of Ash Street is pretty inconvenient -- at least for us. It seems like the only people who are going to end up using the place are the folks in the neighborhoods behind it."

Spending money on a new park just doesn't seem right when there are improvements that could be made to the other parks in the city, he added.

"It's not too bad out here right now," Sutton said. "But you'll find graffiti around here every once in a while and you could really make this ball field nicer, too. And it would only cost thousands, not millions."

Back at Herman Park, Olivia Myers and her husband, James, sit down for lunch about once a month. The couple enjoy watching area children play there.

Unlike some others, they are not bothered about the cost associated with the project. Their opposition to the plan is more about the location.

"It's not the right place for a new park," Mrs. Myers said. "We've got kids walking up and down the blocks back there, getting into trouble every day. Where's their park? They need a place to go to get away from it all. They aren't going to walk five miles across town to look at a lake."

Her husband agrees.

"We need to put more money into the parts of town that need it," he said. "Those folks over there by Stoney Creek have all the money and nice things they need. Why can't we do something for these kids on the block? My wife's right. Those kids need a place more than those people over near the creek."

And then there are those worried that the first time a heavy rain falls on Goldsboro, the money spent on the project will wash away.

"Everybody knows that land is going to flood," Sheila Noble said. "It doesn't matter that the lake might help the flooding. We don't need to spend money to make an area look nice for a few days a year. Most of the time, it's too muddy and wet to enjoy."

Airman 1st Class Jim Weber disagrees. He enjoys running around the property and walking with his children along the creek banks.

"I'd like to see this place five years from now," he said. "There's no question, flooding happens, but can you imagine how great a day in this park could be if they build that lake? I know my boys love looking down into the creek and watching the birds here. A lake would enhance that experience for them, I think."

Molly Baxter, too, thinks the park will make Goldsboro more attractive in the long run. Still, she is against the project.

"I moved here a few years ago to live with my three children and fiancé," she said. "We see boys get beat up, drug deals and all the crime. It isn't right to let those things go unseen every day and then spend millions of dollars on a theater or YMCA or park. Give it to the police so they can protect our kids."

Those in opposition of the new park might not agree on what they would do with the money saved by shelving the project, but they did agree on one thing.

"The City Council needs to take a step back," Sutton said. "I really don't think they have any idea how many people are uneasy about this park. It's a good idea but that doesn't make it right for Goldsboro."