05/29/13 — Parks and Rec budget hits priorities

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Parks and Rec budget hits priorities

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on May 29, 2013 1:46 PM

The recommended capital requests for Goldsboro Parks and Recreation in the proposed 2013-14 budget for the city of Goldsboro, although minimal, are in line with the priorities for the department, according to the Parks and Recreation master plan.

The largest capital requests recommended in the proposed budget are $100,000 for the resurfacing and lighting of the tennis courts at Herman Park and $50,000 for putting in sidewalks at various parks.

During the master planning process two years ago, the number one priority for park improvements was found to be access.

"People need to get to the park," said Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard. "First we go to the parking lot, then bathrooms, playground and shelters."

Barnard said his plans are to provide access in that order.

He used Berkeley Park as an example of a park with access problems, citing the uneven ground, lack of sidewalks and bathroom and picnic shelter set back in the woods.

"If a handicapped person can't access the park then it also isn't extremely easy for anyone else either. And that isn't just someone in a wheelchair, it could be a visually impaired person who needs the sidewalk as a guide," he said.

The department's original request was for nearly $3 million. But Bernard said he is not disappointed with the recommended amount of $221,500.

The original request represented a wish list, he said. What is not funded will be sought again next year, he added.

"The things we requested were the things the people wanted out of their parks. If I were to only request some of them I would be re-prioritizing their wants," said Barnard. "Next year we'll just request everything that didn't get funded, and the next and the next."

One area Barnard was hoping for more funding in the budget was for greenways.

Though substantial grant money has come in for the 2013-14 year Barnard would have liked to have seen funding come from the city also to complete unfunded sections such as Royall Avenue to U.S. 70 or from Elm Street to Slocumb Street.

Recommended in the proposed budget is also $10,000 for the purchase of a riding lawn mower.

"The riding mower is something we desperately needed," said Barnard.

Also recommended is $10,000 for putting up signs to Goldsboro parks to add to the $15,000 received in grants for signs in the 2013-14 year and $30,000 for a new HVAC system for Herman Park Center.

Requests that went unfunded were the request for two 25 passenger vans at the cost of $60,000 each.

Currently Parks and Recreation has a bus which they got from the police department and rent vans throughout the year, daily in the summer.

"The old girl isn't allowed to leave city limits," said Barnard.

A new van would give the department more options to take groups outside of city limits easier than with the current arrangement.

The bus could be replaced by one van and the second van would be for anticipated growth, according to Barnard.

Councilman Bill Broadaway expressed interest in how much Parks and Recreation spent on rentals in a year at the May 20 City Council Meeting.

Parks and Recreation spends approximately $10,000 annually on van rentals and one of the requested vans could be expected to be used for 10 years, according to Barnard.

If rental prices held the same, the purchase of one van could save the city $40,000 over the course of 10 years.