10/23/08 — W.A. Foster Center tops Rec and Parks 'fix' list

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W.A. Foster Center tops Rec and Parks 'fix' list

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 23, 2008 1:46 PM

News-Argus file photo

City officials are looking into costs to repair the building foundation of the W.A. Foster Center. Water drainage issues must be dealt with first.

With seven members present Tuesday, the Goldsboro Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission was finally able to begin prioritizing the repairs needed at the city's parks and recreation facilities -- and at the top of the list is now the W.A. Foster Center.

The commission, which until this week had not had enough members present at its meetings to move forward, also agreed to take a closer look at whether the city should continue to operate its smaller, under-utilized parks.

City Parks and Recreation Department Director Sonya Shaw told the commission she and her staff have been working on a priority list, but that she needed to hear some feedback from the group as to which parks should be first priority.

For the department, she said, the first project should be Herman Park "because it's our flagship park," followed by Herman Park Center.

But commission members said they wanted to see repairs done to W.A. Foster Center first.

"If I had to recommend one over the other, then I'd recommend W.A. Foster over Herman Park," commission member Mike Farfour said.

Mrs. Shaw said she was still unsure of exactly how much it would cost to fix the foundation at the Leslie Street recreation center, but that Park Superintendent Daniel Lancaster had been working with consultants on what those numbers might be.

Lancaster said he spoke to a few different consultants, and that the one he found "most knowledgeable," had said the water and drainage issues had to be dealt with first before the foundation could be repaired.

"You've got to get that water out of there first," Lancaster said. "It may be adding to the foundation damage."

Lancaster also said that, from the consultants he spoke to, he doesn't believe it is going to cost as much as officials first thought to make the repairs.

"When you hear foundation damage, people think the worst," he said.

Lancaster said, however, that if the water problem isn't fixed in a timely manner, it would probably cause more damage in the future.

The commission approved allowing the department to address the drainage issue at W.A. Foster Center and then move on to other repairs at the facility, as money is available -- placing it above all of the other city-owned parks and facilities.

"I think W.A. Foster is in worse shape than Herman Park," commission member Mary McEachern said.

"(W.A. Foster Center) is going to deteriorate (if repairs aren't made), while Herman Park isn't going to deteriorate," commission member William McRoy said.

The commission did set Herman Park and Herman Park Center as the next priorities after W.A. Foster, and Mrs. Shaw estimates that repairs to the three facilities can be complete by 2010 as long as the money is available in the city's budget.

Mrs. Shaw said she and her staff recommended repairing Mina Weil and North End parks in 2010-11, and H.V. Brown and Berkeley parks in 2011-12, and commission members were in agreement with that priority list.

Commission Chairwoman Betsy Wharton then asked the commission what members wanted to do with Henry C. Mitchell Park and South End Park -- parks that, in the draft of the comprehensive master plan, were recommended to be sold or turned into green space.

"I suggest the commission look again at the recommendations and see if we want to accept divesting in some of these parks," she said. "I think we need to consolidate and conserve our resources to the (parks) we use. To me, that seems to be the best use of time and money."

Commission members discussed letting Mrs. Shaw and her staff informally survey the residents around those parks.

"I have the addresses ready," Mrs. Shaw said. "I'm just waiting on you to give me the go-ahead."

The director said the parks staff has been working on smaller items, such as cleaning up the parks and planting flowers and shrubs.

"They spend a few months on one park, and then move onto the next one," she said.

The commission decided to let Mrs. Shaw and her staff prioritize what other big ticket items need to be done in each of the parks and to bring back that recommendation to the commission next month for approval.

Mrs. Shaw said the commission needs to work to make concrete decisions about the priorities of the parks and facilities so that she can take the list to the City Council at its retreat in February to discuss money for the projects for the next few fiscal years.

Commission members also discussed the new Community Recreation Center to be built on South Center Street, saying they didn't want to see things taken out just because the cost would be less.

"If you don't put what you want in there, you will never get it," Farfour said. "If we start cutting corners, we'll regret it one day."

Members said they would rather see a $13 million facility than a $6 million facility that didn't include everything.

"If we can't build what we want now, we need to wait until we have the money to do so," Farfour added.

The commission approved "sticking with the plan" for the recreation center.