08/02/12 — Parks meeting draws crowd

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Parks meeting draws crowd

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 2, 2012 1:46 PM

South End Park was filled with children Wednesday afternoon as part of the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation's master plan meeting in the Day Circle Community Building.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard brought pizza and the city Fire Department brought the city's mobile sprayground -- a sprinkler set up on the basketball court to shower the children with cool water.

Inside the center, Barnard asked 2-year-old Demetrius Green what was his favorite thing about the city parks.

Holding a slice of pizza, Demetrius responded in a barely coherent sentence -- the little guy is still getting the hang of the language -- but one part of his answer was clear: "The sprayground is awesome."

Just minutes before, Demetrius' mother, Alicia, asked Barnard if the sprayground could be brought to South End more often, maybe twice a week including Saturdays.

Barnard scribbled it all down into his notepad.

The meeting was supposed to be about developing a far-reaching vision for the parks system -- a master plan to be designed in collaboration with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. A second meeting was held in the evening at St. Stephen's Church.

Besides more frequent sprayground visits, residents at South End asked for more shade in the form of a picnic shelter so parents could watch their children play. They also said they'd like to see more and bigger playgrounds throughout the city's park system.

"It's not enough for the kids. There's no shade and no where to sit," Ms. Green said.

Others suggested a different surface besides the sand that covers the playground at South End. It isn't that they want an expensive new playground surfaces, they said. They just want to get rid of the ants.

They also asked for better bus connections to the other parks and recreation centers and for some form of shade at the swimming pool at Mina Weil Park, where many of them take their children to swim.

Councilman Charles Williams was present at the meeting as well and had questions about usage at South End, asking about unattended children.

It was a segue into discussions about the crime issues in the area -- something never far from the minds of residents, but one city employee put it into perspective.

"If we can get to the children we'll be all right," he said.

Outside, the sprayground was still pumping water high into the air and onto the dozens of children who gathered in swimsuits at the park, many for the first time in more than a year since the shooting death of 3-year-old Princess King.

Parents and children who have since been afraid to leave their homes were able to forget the troubles typically associated with the low-income housing development and just enjoy a day outside -- all thanks to the parks department.

Barnard furiously scribbled into his notebook as the residents offered other suggestions that could make days like this the norm instead of the exception.