Archived Story

Officials examine sports facilities

Published 8:41pm Monday, February 4, 2013

Although Washington is addressing some immediate needs regarding its recreational facilities, it’s also developing short-term and long-term strategies for those facilities.
Expected participation growth in baseball, softball, basketball and soccer in the coming months is a major factor in the city having to address those facilities needs, according to city officials.
At the City Council’s Jan. 28 meeting, City Manager Josh Kay outlined those needs and offered suggestions on how they could be met. He also addressed concerns related to growth in the sports programs and its affect on the facilities.
Staffing as it relates to facilities management and security is one concern, Kay noted. Adequate facilities is another concern.
“As we continue to grow, we will need additional facilities. We will need additional fields,” Kay said.
As for baseball and softball, expected growth will require additional
fields to maintain the quality and quantity of games offered, he noted. For the city to attract tournaments (which bring money into the city), additional fields are needed.
The current basketball facility is too small for the existing number of players and fans, Kay’s report noted. Scheduling use of that facility is challenging during league seasons because of the demand for its use.
As for soccer, increased participation will require either additional soccer fields or lighting of existing fields, Kay noted. Also, more fields are needed to attract tournaments.
To address the staffing issue, Kay suggests allowing leagues limited management of facilities during nonpeak hours, thus maintaining existing staff levels and using league volunteers to assist in tournament preparation and management activities such as parking control and trash control.
“Since the McConnell Complex has been in operation, we’ve had a pretty good separation of leagues, where they have not overlapped tremendously,” Kay said. “However, this year we’ve come to a unique situation, probably because of the reduction in fees that our rec leagues are charging You also have an influx of participants. That’s a good thing. That’s what we’re here to discuss and to discuss how we manage that good thing.”
As for the basketball facility issue, the city is talking with Beaufort County Schools about possibly using gymnasiums at several schools. The city could face costs related to buying or refurbishing bleachers, flooring improvements and providing facility attendants and security.
A long-term solution to meet soccer needs could be building a soccer complex that includes fields, restrooms, concession stand, lighting and parking.

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