Archived Story

City Council to mull recreational-facilities needs

Published 8:10pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Washington may need new and/or expanded sports and recreational facilities to meet a growing usage of existing facilities.
Washington’s City Council is scheduled to discuss that issue during its meeting Monday.
“City Council hasn’t seen what we’re proposing to them yet. … Basically, what we are looking to address is the — with the participation fee that has been reduced — basketball numbers have increased. We do anticipate baseball and softball numbers increasing. Soccer numbers increased this past fall,” said Kristi H. Roberson, the city’s parks and recreation director. “So, we need to look at the current facilities we have and what potential growth we need to do for the future and the immediate future.”
City Manager Josh Kay is slated to make a presentation on the issue to the council Monday, according to Roberson.
“I’ve given him the background information as to where we’ve come, starting with the (McConnell sports) complex, to where we are. … In March, we will have baseball, softball, soccer and basketball all running at the same time. That’s never happened.”
Roberson said that growth is good, but the question that needs answering is “where do they all go?”
“When council requested that we reduce the fees, we (were given) the mission of lowering the costs and not limiting participation. All the leagues have accepted that mission, therefore, numbers are increasing. … If the numbers go to a certain point, we can’t necessarily get in everything that we need to get in in their time frame,” Roberson said.
In recent years, the issue of reducing or eliminating fees for sports programs, including leagues not controlled by the city, has resulted in differences of opinions among council members and the mayor.
During budget deliberations in 2011, some council members said they had no problems with waiving such fees.
“I don’t think the children should be held hostage … if their parents can’t afford to pay,” Councilman Ed Moultrie said in May 2011.
Other council members expressed concern that eliminating the fees would result in less money to maintain the sports facilities, noting that the city has made other concessions regarding similar fees in the past.
At that meeting, Mayor Archie Jennings favored eliminating the fees, saying doing so would result in more children playing organized sports.

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