Archived Story

Council mulls recreational facility needs

Published 2:48am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Washington’s City Council made it clear Monday night it will address some concerns about recreational facilities with a three-pronged approach — immediate, short-term and long term.
That approach is being taken to address an expected increase in demands on those facilities by increased participation and hosting more tournaments. City officials expect the use of baseball/softball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts in the next 12 months to the point where the facilities and city staff are taxed when it comes to meeting that demand,
The council also reiterated its request that Beaufort County pay its fair share to help run the city’s sports programs. Many participants in those sports programs live in the county but not in the city, council members noted.
Among the immediate fixes will be new fencing for the Todd Maxwell complex at the intersection of West Third and Plymouth streets. The existing fencing is dangerous, with several people being injured in recent years, according to sports league and city officials.
The city proposes spending $7,500 on the fencing project, but City Manager Josh Kay is expected to present some short-term solutions to the facilities-needs issue at the council’s Feb. 11 meeting.
Currently, there are $150,000 allocated in the city’s 2013 capital-improvements plan for lighting at the soccer fields at the McConnell Sports Complex. The lights will be configured to allow for baseball/softball expansion if a soccer complex is built elsewhere.
Councilman Doug Mercer talked about the absence of funding from the county when it comes to the city’s recreational programs.
“For many years, we received an annual contribution from the county for our recreational programs of about 15 grand. The last two years, we’ve not gotten that contribution,” Mercer said. “If we are going to continue to provide recreational facilities that are going to allow teams from Chocowinity and Bath and from the ETJ to come into town and play, the county has got to contribute to us or not contribute to anybody.”
The county provides funds to several other municipalities in the county that operate recreation programs.
“It’s not acceptable to me for them to Chocowinity, Bath, Aurora, Belhaven, Pantego, Washington Park and not give a nickel to Washington,” Mercer said.

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