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Other city departments also get board attention

The board of aldermen discussed views on several aspects of the2010-11 budget Monday night at a work session, including recreationdepartment funding and possible changes in the cemeterydepartment.

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates said he’s interested to find out whatBrookhaven Recreation Department officials have in the works for asports complex in his ward, since their budget looks to be about$670,000 for the upcoming year.

“What are their plans with Alexander park over there?” he said.”Every year there’s been in there something for Alexander, and wetalked about it but nothing motivated over there.”

Mayor Les Bumgarner told Bates there had been softball at the parkof which he spoke, but that wasn’t enough for Bates.

“There’s still nothing in there from the community,” the aldermansaid. “It seems like they’re getting away from it.”

Bates said he is unsatisfied with the fact that more money has beenallotted to the recreation department, which is now also runningthe Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center and maintaining a buildingat Bicentennial Park in addition to their usual recreationalclasses, lessons and leagues, and there is not more emphasis put onactivities in Ward Two.

Over the last few years, baseball at the Dr. A.L. Lott SportsComplex has been a struggle at best, with officials trying manydifferent strategies to bring children from the neighborhood out toplay baseball. Every effort has met with a lukewarmreception.

“Poor kids in the city can’t pay $75 for soccer, or $75 for flagfootball,” Bates said. “This $670,000 is dependent on those poorkids, without it it’s motivated in there looking at the poor kids,and it’s nothing there. Without them, we can’t support it.”

When contacted Tuesday, recreation department officials said thefee to play flag football is $40. The fees to play soccer vary,with the highest fee being $50.

City Clerk Mike Jinks told Bates his concerns and questions werebest answered by Recreation Department Director Terry Reid and therecreation department board.

Money has been allotted for bathrooms at Bicentennial Park,officials said, though the third spray park has not been includedin the budget.

The board also discussed the cemetery department and possible waysto consolidate and utilize the resources there.

With four employees altogether in the cemetery department, most oftheir time is spent mowing grass and cleaning and maintainingcemeteries when they’re not digging and filling graves. Cityofficials pondered leaving two with the cemetery department andcontracting the mowing and maintenance out.

“We could move these people to where we need them and possiblycontract that out,” said Ward Six Alderman David Phillips,suggesting the extra employees be moved to the street department orworking on cleaning ditches.

Other aldermen argued against the idea.

“You need to have someone there who’s knowledgeable about where theplots are,” said Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan.

Bumgarner said he had spoken with a contractor who bid cutting allseven of the city’s cemeteries for $3,750 per cut.

“So if you take these people and move them over, you may not havesolved anything, but you might have solved the ditch problem,” hesaid.

Bates said given issues with grass cutting in other areas of thecity, it might be best to keep the work in-house.

“You see the problems we have with the Boulevard, just cutting thatlittle grass,” he said.

The board meets again for their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m.Tuesday. The meeting will be preceded by a 6 p.m. public hearing onmodular buildings.