City, Rec Dept. seek ways to offer more

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 19, 2005

Brookhaven recreation leaders touted department goals andservices Thursday, while some elected city officials continued tovoice concerns about citizens are who not being served.

“Our numbers are up and growing every year,” RecreationDepartment Director Terry Reid said during a meeting between theParks Commission and the Board of Aldermen.

A proposed new year budget includes $472,000 for recreationservices, which is virtually the same funding level as thisyear.

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For this year, Reid said the department wants to completesurfacing and painting of the basketball court at the A.L. LottSports Complex, air conditioning of the gymnastics building behinddepartment headquarters on Highway 51 and a restroom for Kids’Kingdom. He said a collection-jar campaign around town isgenerating about $200 to $300 a week for the restroom, but a reportfrom the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still needed before therestroom project can move forward.

Reid said senior citizens and girls over age 14 are not beingserved by the department as much as other age groups. He mentionedsenior citizens’ fears of traveling on Brookway Boulevard andHighway 51 and a lack of participation among older femaleteens.

“Everybody else is being covered and covered pretty well,” Reidsaid.

For next year, Reid said department officials would like to finda building off the main thoroughfare for senior citizens. He alsowants to complete a walking trail at the city park on HartmanStreet and sodding of the ball field at the Lott complex.

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates took exception to Reid’s assertionabout department services. Bates pointed out facilities andactivities located in the west and northern parts of the city.

“There’s some kids were getting further and further and furtheraway from,” Bates said. “Let’s find a way to get back.”

Bates complimented department plans, but indicated there is roomfor improvement.

“We’re doing good with it, but we’ve gotten away from some ofour kids,” Bates said.

Bates said there is a need for a swimming pool and a communitycenter. City swimming pools were closed years ago, and plans for acommunity center were abandoned when allocated funds were usedelsewhere during tight budgets more recently.

“I think the swimming pool is out of the question,” said WardFive Alderman D.W. Maxwell. “It’s too much liability for thecity.”

Reid said some cities are going to water mist or sprayactivities in place of pools. Bates countered that a pool would beimportant in teaching young people to swim.

“This will save lives,” Bates said. “You can’t teach them toswim by spraying water on them.”

Citing Natchez considerations, Reid said repairs to an existingpool were estimated at $400,000. A new pool would cost $800,000, hesaid.

Regarding a community center, several sites have beenconsidered. However, Reid alluded to concerns about neighbors notwanting one in their areas.

If the board decides a center is needed and provides the funds,Reid said, efforts should be made to place as close to the centerof the city as possible.

“A central location would be good if we could find one,” Reidsaid.