Unfulfilled promiseResident complains that there's no easy way for poor to get to park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
William Peoples says he has waited long enough.
Salisbury City Council has never followed through on its promise to provide public transportation to the Salisbury Community Park off Hurley School Road, Peoples said this week.
“Low-income people have no way of getting there,” he said Tuesday during a public comment period at City Council’s meeting.
“I’m still waiting on an answer to that. … I think you’ve had enough time to do something about it. I’m still holding you accountable for that.”
Peoples said he raised the question of how low-income Salisburians, especially children, would get to the 300-acre-plus park and athletic complex even before it was developed over the late 1990s.
City officials promised then, he said, that they would provide public transportation to the park for people who couldn’t get there otherwise. But it hasn’t happened, and it’s been almost 10 years, he added.
The issue surfaced most recently at a NAACP candidates forum last October prior to the City Council election. Four of the five council members have been in office at least 10 years.
Council members made no comment after Peoples’ appearance Tuesday and, while they’ve supported the idea of providing transportation to the park, which lies a considerable distance outside the city limits, they’ve never figured out the logistics for doing it effectively.
The Rowan County Little League holds its games at the park, which also has softball and soccer fields, an 8-acre lake for fishing and picnicking, walking trails and cross country courses.
Peoples recognized that baseball, soccer, softball and fishing are offered at the park, but where are the basketball courts, he asked.
According to an earlier report from the Parks and Recreation Department, the Salisbury Community Park had almost 395,000 visitors since the end of January 2007.
Jimmy Greene, a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, presented the board’s goals for 2008-2009 Tuesday, and they included changing Lincoln Park Pool into a splash/spray pad.
Greene said the pool dates back to the late 1960s, is leaking water, and the department has had a consistent problem in finding and keeping lifeguards.
Later, Peoples took council members to task on the pool, and asked them how it had gotten in such bad condition that it couldn’t be fixed.
Recent capital improvement money in the Parks and Recreation Department has gone toward providing matching funds for grant-funded improvements at the Salisbury Sports Complex across from the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.
Greene said Phase I of the Sports Complex’s renovations, which includes construction of two lighted softball fields, should be completed in March or April. A Phase II development of the Sports Complex will cost $650,000.
Replacement of the tennis courts at City Park will begin in March, Greene said.
Other park goals that would require funding include a five-year, $125,000-a-year capital improvement plan for all parks, $125,000 toward land acquisition for a neighborhood park east of Interstate 85, $25,000 for a building at the Community Park to house the Rowan County Sports Hall of Fame, $1.5 million for a gymnasium addition at the Civic Center and $23,000 to complete the replacement of tables and chairs at the Civic Center.
Peoples also questioned the lack of electrical receptacles at Kelsey-Scott Park. At every Juneteenth Festival, a drop cord has to be extended a considerable distance across the parking lot to the nearest electrical outlet, he said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.