Public input given on recreation needs

Feb. 06, 2014 @ 05:46 PM

Approximately 50 people gathered in the Farm Bureau Meeting Room of Perry Memorial Library on Tuesday evening to express their thoughts about recreation needs in Henderson and Vance County. Several spoke about the difficulties using public tennis courts at Fox Pond Park.

The public was invited as far back as November to complete a 22-item Henderson-Vance Parks and Recreation survey.

Will Brooks, a regional planner with Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, the group conducting the survey, said a fair number of people have already filled out the questionnaire.

“As of yesterday, 202 had been submitted,” he said. “That’s enough to make some guesses about needs.”

However, Brooks said answers from surveys submitted during the next week or so will be entered before analysis of the data begins.

Matthew Todd encouraged everybody to take the survey and ask their friends to do the same.

“Parks and Recreation is one of the strongest parts of Vance County,” he said. “The fact that the community is proactive is a positive sign.”

Tuesday’s town hall meeting was meant to supplement the survey, which is needed to help the city and county apply for grants.

Brooks invited people to describe needs related to facilities, programming and funding.

Hilda Delbridge, a longtime tennis coach in Vance County schools, described difficulties encountered by school teams and the public in using recreation department facilities at Fox Pond Park because of the limited number of courts.

“Kids of all ages should have an opportunity to play this lifetime sport,” she said.

Daniel Young agreed with Delbridge. He said there was a need for tennis courts in the city, especially since some young people can’t make it to the park.

Brenda Gant said the city and county should make it a priority to help residents get access to the tennis courts.

“Is there any plan to address transportation?” she said. “Aycock and Northern and Southern are not in walking distance of 90 percent of our kids.”

Jennifer Privette said young people don’t want to participate in sports because the fields are not cared for properly. Her husband, Kenneth, said some problems stem from lack of discipline.

“Parents lack respect for coaches,” he said.

Vance County Tourism Director Nancy Wilson said some of those issues stem from staff’s uncertainty with what’s allowed.

“Is there a protocol for use of ball fields?” she said. “We have people interested, and we’re not sure what we can do and cannot do.”

Parks and Recreation Director Alan Gill said precedence for use of the facilities was recreation activities first then school groups and, finally, the community.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Randy Oxendine said they were still working out kinks with those and other issues. Even so, the commission would like for Vance County to host tournaments, but the lack of facilities is a limiting factor.

Oxendine, a coach as well as chairman of the commission, said another problem was the shortage of adults to supervise sports events.

George Watkins agreed.

“The main problem we have is we need more volunteers,” he said. “No recreation program can be successful without volunteers. That may be our weakest area.”

Henderson City Councilwoman Sara Coffey said when the council funds something, they’ve got to be able to justify it.

“Come before us with a plan,” she said. “I think this is the right direction.”

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.