10/12/10 — City officials plan weekend cleanup at Berkeley Park

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City officials plan weekend cleanup at Berkeley Park

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on October 12, 2010 1:46 PM

Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Director Ruben Wall has been in the city less than a year, but he is well aware of the stigma surrounding Berkeley Park -- and determined to change it.

This weekend, he is asking for the community's help to give Berkeley Park a face-lift and to make it a safer, more inviting place for families.

"By bringing my staff, the community members, city officials, inviting community leaders out, we're going to go in there full force and do everything we can to enhance that park. I think we can change how people feel about that park, so that's what this is all about," Wall said.

Goldsboro's parks are a major feature of the community, and making them attractive and safe for visitors has been one of his goals since he came to the city in February, he said.

"I feel, my goal when I came here, we're going to have the best park system in the state. I'm not just saying it, I mean it," he said.

Berkeley Park is a place he takes his own family, and he plans to be out in the park this weekend for the cleanup, along with other Parks and Recreation staff.

Wall plans, first, to paint the bridges a "safety warning" shade of red to make them stand out. Tilling the playgrounds, power washing the structures and painting the dugouts are also on the to-do list. Volunteers are needed to help with the cleanup, he said.

"Bring your old dirty clothes, bring some energy and be prepared to help," Wall said.

The volunteer projects will be limited to non-invasive, "citizen-friendly" repairs like painting, mulching and cleaning, but city employees are also working on a big upgrade by installing a front gate to the park.

Previously there was no way to lock the park, and there were issues with people gaining unauthorized entry to the park after hours. Now, officials hope the gates will help keep the park in better condition.

"Folks were still going in and out at any hours, and that's where some of the issues were coming from," Wall said.

Additionally, the hours of operation at all city parks have changed to a seasonal system. From Nov. 1 to March 14, the parks will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. the rest of the year. The change affects all of the parks, and having the parks on the same schedule will also make it easier for police to keep an eye on the facilities, Wall said.

Berkeley Park, located on Cashwell Drive off of Berkeley Boulevard, is somewhat secluded, which may be one of the reasons it garnered a negative reputation, he said.

"It's kind of off in the woods and over the years I think that's just come about. If enough people say it long enough, loud enough, eventually it just kind of sticks. But we can change it and we're going to change it," Wall said.

City workers have already started trimming back the bushes and trees to allow a better line of sight, another safety-promoting improvement.

The cleanup begins this Saturday at 9 a.m. with no firm end point. Park superintendent John Albert, who stepped into the position in August, is spearheading the effort on behalf of the recreation department.

"I'm excited about it, my whole staff is excited about it. We're going all day. He's hit the ground running, he's taken this project and really put it together," Wall said.

The work won't stop with Berkeley Park. The city's other parks will also receive improvements in the future as the department moves down the list, tackling each project one by one.

It's important to have a place where families and children can enjoy being outdoors, and feel safe while having a good time, Wall said.

"I think the park system speaks volumes about the community," he said.