Parks and recreation plan nears finish line

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

With no new business on Monday, Dec. 3, members of the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee continued to tweak the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Open Space Master Plan.

Members picked up where they left off from the November meeting and continued to go page-by-page giving comments and criticisms to the document created by Dr. Jim Herstine, a University of North Carolina Wilmington professor who was contracted to create the plan. 

Herstine revised the remainder of the document to reflect the comments by committee members from the previous meeting.

Skate park?

In addition to again raising the issue of the skateboard park, committee member Martha Chaffins also expressed concerns about the public information meetings referred to in the plan.

“I think there’s an implication in here that it was well attended,” Chaffins said.

Program supervisor Katie Ryan said unfortunately all of the public meetings had low attendance, but the people who spoke up during the meetings are the ones represented in the plan.

Chaffins said the plan could be unintentionally biased but should communicate what the people want before spending thousands of dollars.

“We’re not spending anything,” Ryan said. “... There’s more public meetings before you do any of this stuff.”

Bike trails, a skateboard park and a dog park topped off the wish list by residents who responded to the survey and spoke at public meetings.

“All of the percentages are in there,” Herstine said. “All of the numbers are in there. … These are my recommendations based on the data. … If it’s mentioned at every opportunity for the public to make comment then it is important.”

Any of the items included in the plan would come back to both the committee and the board of aldermen.

The skateboard park, with an estimated cost of $250,000-$300,000, is currently the last item on the list of projects, scheduled by year, because of the varied opinions on the recreation feature, Herstine said.

He said only one person spoke against the skateboard park in public meetings and everyone else spoke in favor.

“But I don’t think the discussion should end,” he said, adding that municipalities use master plans as recommendations from statements by the public.

Two departments?

Another significant item included in the plan is the restructuring of the parks and recreation department itself.

The restructuring would make it a separate entity and create a new director position for a total of three positions in the department.

Committee members will look over the final copy of the plan before considering it for approval.

Ryan said she would incorporate aspects of the plan in the budget for  FY 2013-14 when she begins working on it in January.

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