City Council member tries to change W.A. Foster site
By Matt Caulder
Published in News on November 5, 2013 1:46 PM
The location for the new W.A. Foster Recreation Center came up for a vote again Monday night, a year after the Goldsboro City Council unanimously approved Mina Weil Park as the proposed location for the center.
Councilman William Goodman made a surprise motion following the public comment period during the City Council meeting to build the new Foster center on the site of the original center on Leslie Street.
After Councilman Michael Headon seconded the motion, Councilman Gene Aycock asked Goodman to withdraw it so the council could discuss the issue at the next work session on Nov. 18.
Plans to build on the current site were abandoned in late 2012 due to difficulties acquiring nearby land to expand the center. More space is needed to provide for parking to suit the needs of the center, planners have said.
During the public comment period, Goldsboro resident Ernest Lofton spoke in favor of moving the location of the new center back to the location on Leslie Street.
Lofton presented the council with a petition he said was signed by 200 people that oppose moving the center. Aycock thanked Lofton for gathering the signatures.
Goodman had expressed interest at the last City Council meeting in revisiting the idea of building the new center on the existing site.
Lofton said that the center was the closest thing to an African-American historical site in Goldsboro.
"We don't need no Yankee Stadium up there," he said. "Put a recreation center at the north end of Goldsboro, too. Split the money and build two."
Lofton said that there already is enough amenities at Mina Weil and that the nearby residents do not want to see more traffic.
"When you build these places you need input from the citizens and not just architects." Lofton said.
Public meetings were held at the current W.A. Foster center for input about what Goldsboro residents wanted to see in a new center.
Recreation Superintendent Felicia Brown with Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Department gave a presentation to the City Council on Monday about a possible shift from the proposed location as part of an overall presentation of a proposed $18.9 million bond referendum.
Mrs. Brown listed the pros and cons of both building at Mina Weil Park and staying on Leslie Street.
The historic location of the existing center was seen as a positive, along with the positive effect is would have on the neighborhood, she said, but the current site has limited outdoor space, inadequate parking and would need to be closed for over a year for demolition and construction.
The move to Mina Weil Park was seen as a positive due to more space, still being in walking distance for most people who use it and being adjacent to two schools whose students the center serves. Plans call for the demolition of the pool house at Mina Weil to make room for the new center. The pool house is not in good repair, Mrs. Brown said.
"The current Mina Weil pool house, let's just say it isn't current," she said.
The new center would have exterior doors to locker rooms adjacent to the pool.
Proposed plans to rebuild a new center on the original site included purchasing three properties across Corney Street and closing the section of street between Leslie and Beal streets.
The closed section and adjacent properties would go to add parking for the facility.
Also, it was noted that a new building on the current site would contain less space than the proposed Mina Weil Park location.
Goodman said that the three properties in question aren't very valuable.
"Do the owners feel that way?" Aycock said.
Goodman did not answer.
The city contacted the adjacent property owners last year in hopes that it could purchase several smaller lots to expand on, but there was little to no response.