The Herman Park Recreation Center will soon have a whole new look. In fact, it will be a whole new building, complete with two gymnasiums, as the existing center is razed to make room for the new one.
The Goldsboro City Council voted this week to approve an $11.7 million financing agreement that includes nearly $11 million for the new center and $600,000 to pay a portion of the city’s contribution to the streetscape improvements downtown.
As we mentioned in our support of the T.C. Coley Center and public golf course, recreational amenities are essential for the development and redevelopment of an area. We also mentioned, however, that it would be in the city’s best interest to reduce construction and operating costs and therefore make them less of a burden on taxpayers.
The city’s handling of the Herman Park Recreation Center goes a long way to bringing life to that point. As we reported Wednesday, the original price tag for the center was estimated to run between $8 million and $17 million. At that range, the city council started backing away. But it appears that with two gymnasiums and other limiting considerations, an $11 million price tag is doable.
Councilman Antonio Williams voted against the measure because according to reports he wanted a third gymnasium for basketball tournaments. Countering that was Mayor Chuck Allen, who said the city could not afford the additional $2.5 million for the third gym.
It comes down to need. If two gyms are not enough for the facility, and the third gym is necessary, spending the additional money makes sense as alterations after construction are always costlier. If it is just a desire to have the third gym, and no empirical data support the other gym — or a need for it — the city council must vote to save the taxpayers the more than $2 million.
Herman Park has become a jewel in Wayne County, not just Goldsboro. Moving ahead with the new recreation center is a smart decision. It will make the park even more valuable economically and a greater asset to the quality of life for today’s residents and those who will arrive on the many tomorrows ahead.