City could get new playground

Published 6:41 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To quote William Shakespeare: “To be or not to be: that is the question.”

Those words apply to the possibility of using grant money to install playground equipment at the Bug House Park site. During its meeting Monday might, the Washington City Council authorized the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to proceed with applying for a grant from the KaBOOM community partner program. KaBOOM approached the city about participating in the program, which would require $8,500 in community contributions, an extensive eight to 10 week planning process and 200 volunteers to build the playground in one day, according to Kristi H. Roberson, parks and recreation manager for the city. KaBOOM would provide up to $15,000 for the project, according to research done Monday night by Councilman Doug Mercer.

Friday is the deadline to apply for the grant.

The council had questions about the project, some of which Roberson could answer. As for other details of the project, Roberson said she was in the process of seeking that information from KaBOOM officials.

Because the city would be required to perform any needed site work, have soil tests performed, make utility checks and obtain required building permits, council members expressed concerns about how much those requirements could cost the city. They are concerned those costs may not make it fiscal feasible to go through with the project.

Roberson was tasked with getting more information about the proposed project and report back to the council regarding if the city should proceed with building the playground. Roberson said the $8,500, if raised, would come from individuals and businesses, not from the city.

Roberson said KaBOOM approached the city about applying for the grant instead of the city seeking a grant from KaBOOM.

“I do have some concerns as well. You have to get 200 volunteers, and it’s a one-day project,” Roberson said. “It’s not using (a contractor) — for Papa’s Playground we had a contractor come in and install the playground. It’s about community involvement and the community having buy-in to the park. That’s why they have to raise the funds. It’s a little different from anything we’ve ever done.”

Mayor Archie Jennings said the city’s position would be to proceed with the proposed project, but at any point along the way the city would back out if it felt uncomfortable with it.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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