11/09/12 — Citizens will have a say in park plan

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Citizens will have a say in park plan

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 9, 2012 1:46 PM

Along with negotiating approval for a new W.A. Foster Recreation Center in Mina Weil Park, Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard also managed to receive the go-ahead from the Goldsboro City Council for two grants and a preliminary draft of his department's master plan Monday night.

The W.A. Foster approval came following a closed session discussion of another option and will allow Barnard to advertise for and to hire a designer for the new recreation center, which is aimed at replacing the aging W.A. Foster Center on Leslie Street.

Staff members have said the community has vastly outgrown that facility. The building also contains asbestos that, while not harmful to patrons, would make expansion or renovations financially unfeasible. The center was closed for nearly a month in December 2011 due to concerns about the toxic substance.

That closure and prospect of permanent shuttering of the facility prompted the City Council to fast track the construction of a new facility. Council members have tentatively agreed to make about $2 million available for the project.

The center features prominently into the city's new Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which the council got its first look at Monday. The review comes less than a week after the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, which is acting as the master plan's steering committee, viewed it initially.

The draft shows the components that will make up the plan as prepared by Steve Moler and Pete Armstrong, consultants with Recreation Resource Services.

RRC is an assistance program offered through a cooperative partnership between the state's division of parks and recreation and the N.C. State department of parks, recreation and tourism management.

The master plan will be based on more than a half dozen meetings with citizens over the summer where members of the public said they wanted a higher level of maintenance at the city's parks, including more landscape work to include flowers.

Barnard said his department has already begun to work on some suggestions, but renovations to existing facilities and construction of new ones won't be acted on until the master plan is approved by the City Council.

A final draft of the plan is expected to be presented later this year.

Highlighted in the report is the amount it would take to bring all of the city's parks up to par with health and safety requirements, broken down into the costs associated with each park. The total cost is projected to be $488,500.

The plan contains suggestions for installation of spray grounds throughout the park system as well as the creation of a skateboard park and a park downtown, but council members said they wanted to take a conservative approach toward improvement, making concerted efforts to take care of the parks that are utilized most first before beginning new endeavors.

"We only have a set amount of money to use," District 1 Councilman Michael Headen said.

Council members were also mindful of spending limitations when Barnard discussed the prospect of trails and greenways, some of which could be funded by grants.

Barnard asked to apply for the Recreational Trail Program grant, valued at up to $200,000, for greenway construction along the Stoney Creek Greenway corridor from East Ash Street north toward Royall Avenue and south toward Elm Street. The funds would be used to improve the existing trailhead at the intersection of Peachtree and Randolph streets and to pave 1.2 miles of greenway.

The city's match would be covered by its work on Stoney Creek Park, which has been funded by another grant, the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant, which is earmarked to install bathrooms, a sand volleyball court and to increase accessibility at the park.

The Adopt a Trail grant, valued at $5,000, would be used to fund trailhead construction at the intersection of Elm Street and Stoney Creek Parkway, including signage and a gravel lot.

That trailhead is an existing access to the state's Mountains to the Sea trail and the Stoney Creek Greenway.

The council approved the requests to apply for the grants by consent.