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Committee to address recreation facility priorities

The city’s tennis courts at Cahoon Park are among the recreational facilities that could be discussed and identified for improvements by an ad hoc committee of the Roswell City Council. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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A temporary committee of the Roswell City Council will seek to create a guiding philosophy for Roswell’s parks and identify a handful of immediate projects.

The Recreation Facilities Ad Hoc committee is scheduled to meet for the first time at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 in the Parks Administration Office, 1101 W. Fourth Street. Councilors Barry Foster and Jacob Roebuck are co-chairs, with Councilors Jeanine Best and Margaret Kennard as members. Jim Burress, special services director, is the staff coordinator.

The public can join the meeting electronically through computer, tablet or smartphone at global.gotomeeting.com/join/574097365 or by phone at 571-317-3122 using access code 574-097-365.

The committee’s first meeting has already been postponed once. It had originally been scheduled for Sept. 13. The committee is slated to meet four times, Roebuck said.

The ad hoc committee came about from conversations among the mayor and councilors after the city council approved the city’s fiscal year 2022 budget at the end of July. In a special meeting on July 29, Roebuck attempted to amend the budget to include resurfacing the tennis courts in Cahoon Park and shade structures at the outdoor pool at the Recreation and Aquatic Center, adding $100,000 for each item from the Recreation Department budget.

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Each amendment failed by split votes, with the mayor casting a tie-breaking vote on the tennis courts.

“What came out of that was that there is a sincere desire to identify some projects for our recreation facilities near-term,” Mayor Dennis Kintigh said.

“I did not feel the final budget was the place to address it, so I created this ad hoc committee after talking with Roebuck, Foster, Best and Kennard,” he said.

Kintigh said he has charged the committee with identifying about a half-dozen priorities within the recreation department the city can work on. Any recommendations from the ad hoc committee will have to be approved by the full city council.

Roebuck said the committee will also form some kind of document with which to guide how the city addresses its parks in the future. On the agenda for the first meeting is a discussion of the kind, quantity and quality of city parks.

“We have a lot of acres of parks, but we don’t know if we have too much. Sometimes some people say we have too much, sometimes people say we have too little. Sometimes people say that we need more of x or y, we need more playgrounds, less playgrounds,” Roebuck said.

“We don’t really have a sort of guiding philosophy to manage our parks,” he said.

Roebuck said the committee will form a document — such as a mission, vision and values statement or maybe a policy — to help establish that guide for the parks.

“I think we’re going to talk a lot about what are our parks for, what kinds of parks do we want to have,” he said, with distinctions such as neighborhood parks, trails, regional parks and sports facilities.

Roebuck said the parks department also needs to establish standards by which to maintain its facilities, which he said is part of the issue of the condition of the tennis courts.

“The city staff didn’t have clarity on what standard are we supposed to maintain this, and that’s the whole issue. The problem isn’t we don’t have the money for it. We’ve got the money for it,” he said.

“The problem is that we’re all trying to do our due diligence and spend money properly, but it’s really hard to spend money properly if you don’t have a value set, if you haven’t decided what’s important, what’s not important,” he said.

Roebuck said he doesn’t expect the ad hoc committee will be able to answer every issue affecting the city’s parks, but hopes it will create a framework document that can be added to.

“Right now we don’t have a policy. It’s just like whatever anybody feels, that’s why it’s so hard to get anything done,” he said.

“Parks are important for our residents. They’re also important for people who are kicking the tires of our town who drive through. They’re important for beautification. They serve a lot of purposes, and we’ve got a lot of great assets that we need to be taking care of,” he said.

Note: This story was updated Sept. 22 to reflect the Sept. 24 meeting was rescheduled.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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