05/21/08 — Council: City parks in need of attention

View Archive

Council: City parks in need of attention

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on May 21, 2008 2:29 PM

After presenting an outlook on the current deteriorating condition of some of Goldsboro's parks and recreation facilities to the Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission last week, Eastern Carolina Council representative Judy Hills brought the information to the City Council Monday night.

Council members recognized a need for improvements in many facilities.

"It's clear to me that we're going to have to take an in-depth look at our parks," Mayor Al King said.

Councilman Chuck Allen said that most of what he saw -- rotting wood and grimy water fountains, for example -- were maintenance issues that have been problems for a long time.

To help fix the deterioration of some of the park and building areas as soon as possible, the council decided to take the $33,000 that was under consideration for the 2008-09 budget to be used for repairs at W.A. Foster Center and move it to facility maintenance in general, mostly because the center has structural problems that will cost above and beyond that amount. Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw said an initial analysis of cost to repair leaking and the foundation of W.A. Foster Center came in between $50,000 and $60,000.

After seeing the presentation for the second time, once at the commission meeting and the last Monday night, Councilman Don Chatman asked Mrs. Shaw if she looked at costs to repair all of the items in Ms. Hills' presentation. Mrs. Shaw said her department has just started to analyze what needs to be done and at what cost.

"We have just really assessed Herman Park, and the renovations there alone could cost $80,000," she said.

She added that the Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission members would help with prioritizing repairs of the facilities over the summer.

Crunched for time in their work session, council members decided to hold off on any other decisions about the recreation facilities until a later date.

"We are going to have to revisit this park thing. It didn't just occur overnight," King said.

The presentation was the beginning stages of creating a comprehensive master plan for the parks and recreational buildings that will later help the city in receiving the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant that might bring $500,000 to Stoney Creek Park.

"This is a long-range plan," Ms. Hills said. "This is to help you see what can be phased in over time."

The biggest downfalls of the facilities are the age of the buildings and location of the parks.

"I know most of the buildings you are working with are old, and there is not much you can do with that," Ms. Hills has said. "Your parks are mostly buried. They are tucked back away."

Most of them are behind neighborhoods, along back roads or at the end of roads, and because of that, she explained, even the people utilizing the parks don't feel safe in them.

"They're so remote," she has said. "When I look at it, I think, 'I wouldn't feel comfortable taking my kids there.'"

She also noted that many of the water fountains aren't workable or look so grimy that no one would want to use them.

And the bathrooms, she said, should be unlocked when people are using the parks and should include soap and either paper towels or a hand dryer -- which most of them do not. She added, though, that she does understand the need to lock them up to prevent damage or graffiti.

Other items on her list of improvements include updating garbage cans, using recycling bins, lowering signage, repainting, increasing the number of bike racks, replenishing sand in the playground areas, fixing the brick underneath the gazebo in Herman Park, fixing the roof on a shelter in H.V. Brown, updating the appeal of Mina Weil Park and pool, fixing cracks on the outside and inside of W.A. Foster Center and getting rid of standing water in the basement of the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course building.