Council to study options for getting more kids to Salisbury Community Park

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Transportation and programming costs have been among the chief hurdles in getting inner city youth to use the 300-acre-plus Salisbury Community Park off Hurley School Road.
This fiscal year, Salisbury City Council set a goal of looking at the travel options and expanding summer youth programs to include the rural community park.
Council members heard from staff Tuesday on some of the possibilities.
Some of the options would come with a steep price tag, but the Parks and Recreation Department continues planning for a less expensive Outdoor Adventure Camp this summer at Salisbury Community Park.
The 8-week program ó it’s assumed the camp would have different participants each week ó would be offered between June 15 and Aug. 7, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. daily.
Cost would be $20 per participant, with 10 to 14 children expected each day.
Two staff members would offer supervised and structured activities with different themes each week.
The city would provide transportation from Miller Center/Hall Gym, City Park Center and the Civic Center, or participants could find their own way to the Community Park.
Parents also will have the option of placing their children in the city’s summer day camp after completion of the Outdoor Adventure Camp each day.
The city’s costs for the camp include $4,000 for transportation, $768 for T-shirts, $4,000 for staffing and $800 for supplies ó a total cost of $9,568.
The Parks and Recreation staff has applied for $7,648 in grants toward the camp. The Salisbury Community Foundation already has awarded $3,500. An additional $1,920 is anticipated in participant fees, so the camp project still needs $4,148.
A second option investigated would provide city transportation and programming to Salisbury Community Park over six months (May-October).
Without grants and using part-time programming and staff, this option would cost between $95,456 and $109,221 in the first year. The difference comes in whether the Transit System would receive any federal or state funds toward the bus costs.
This particular option also includes the $30,000 cost of an on-site vehicle for the expansive park.
Without a vehicle, the first-year costs for the 6-month option would range from $64,956 to $78,721.
Another option investigated would be year-round transportation and programming on a Monday-Saturday basis. The costs for this option would range from $202,650 to $231,650 in the first year.
Council heard the report prior to its annual goal-setting retreat next Thursday and Friday.
“Let’s hope we can get a lot of children to use it,” Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson said of future programming for the park.
Council members have expressed concerns in the past about providing city transportation for kids to the passive park without supervision once they arrived.
Obstacles the Parks and Recreation and Transit Division staff discussed included the costs for staff to operate programs, finding a convenient bus route and concerns that a child would miss the last bus back to Salisbury and be left behind.
But benefits would include improved appreciation of the environment, increased use of the Community Park and more youth programming.
No formal city recreation programming exists at Salisbury Community Park, which includes a complex of baseball and softball fields, walking trails and cross-country courses, soccer fields, an 8-acre fishing lake, picnic areas and extensive parking.
The Rowan Little League uses the ball diamonds.