Amendment to protect sports facilities approved

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In a split vote Monday, Washington’s City Council amended the City Code to prevent unauthorized use of playing fields at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex and other city sports facilities from damaging those facilities.

Voting for the amendment were council members Doug Mercer, Richard Brooks and Larry Beeman. Council member William Pitt, who preferred seeking a compromise to the problem, voted against the amendment.

The amendment prohibits individual practices or games on any city sports facilities unless pre-approved by the director of the city’s parks and recreation facilities or his or her designee.

The council learned of the problem by way of a memorandum written by Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, to the mayor and council. “Over the last several weeks, what appears to be (a) semi-organized adult soccer league has been using the soccer fields at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex. They used 3 fields after excessive rain and ruined the field,” wrote Lewis in the memorandum to the mayor and council members.

The issue was discussed by the city’s Recreation Advisory Committee, which recommended the city erect signs on the complex that announce the prohibition of “non-programmable sports that are not rented/reserved with the City Parks and Recreation Department,” according to the memorandum. The committee recommended the signs be written in English and Spanish.

Washington resident Brent Glover, in a letter he wrote to city officials, believes the prohibition against “unauthorized” use of city sports facilities is a drastic reaction to the situation. Glover said he’s part of a group that occasionally plays “unorganized” soccer games.

“I would ask that the city use the tools already in place (i.e gates) to indicate times when the city wishes to close the fields. Gates with signage indicating ‘Fields Closed’ could accomplish the goal of protecting the fields in times of inclement weather, while not restricting complete use of the facilities with a layer of bureaucracy,” Glover wrote.

Later, he added, “It is my desire that the city explore a better way to communicate, while preserving recreational opportunities that are afforded to the citizens of Washington. A mutually beneficial outcome can be attained by finding a solution that is somewhere in the middle, and then if the ‘unauthorized’ use continues, at that point it will be justified in completely restricting usage in the manner that you are originally proposing.”

Pitt suggested the council table the matter as it looked for a compromise.

Bobby Roberson, interim city manager, said the amendment was proposed as a way to protect the soccer fields and other city sports facilities.




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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