Council could approve funds for improvements at sports complex

Published 8:34 pm Friday, February 19, 2016

Part of the parking lot at Washington’s Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex will be paved and a sidewalk connecting the parking lot with the playing fields constructed to provide easier access for handicapped people, if the City Council approves money for the project.

That decision could come during the council’s meeting Monday.

The project’s budget is $7,945 for materials. City crews will do the work, including building wheelchair ramps, according to a city document. The money will be appropriated from the city’s general fund.

The council, during its Feb. 8 meeting, decided to make the improvements. The decision came after discussion regarding the scope of possible improvements at the sports complex that would make it better accessible to handicapped people. Councilman Doug Mercer questioned the need for all the recommended improvements. Councilman Larry Beeman’s motion to proceed with the project was approved, with Mercer voting against it.

Mercer said it was his understanding the Rivers & Associates would provide a report “that told us what we needed to do to be (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant” with all city facilities. “I see a report that gives me a list of materials — that ultimately wind up with a bunch of concrete work that costs $110,000 at the McConnell Complex. I see no information about any other activity that needs to be done. As far as I’m concerned, this is not the report that we paid for and we should not proceed to do anything until we get that report,” Mercer said.

City Manager Bobby Roberson said, “I’ve read the report, and, unfortunately, in my opinion, somebody (was) told this is what the city was requesting — what you have in your agenda package this evening. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong; I’m just saying that’s what the consultant has basically told us this is what we’re going to get.”

Roberson said Rivers & Associate was told to look only at the sports complex, figure out the how to make it more ADA compliant and provide cost estimates for any related projects.

“That’s all we asked for,” Beeman said.

“That’s what we got,” Roberson replied.

Mercer contended the council should wait for the detailed report on ADA matters before committing any money toward related projects.

Councilman William Pitt said he wanted more information about ADA compliance, not just at the sports complex but also throughout the city.

“The only complaints, or concerns … that I’ve received in my office is about the Susiegray McConnell Complex. Outside of that, I haven’t heard any ADA compliance (issues),” Roberson said.


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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