The Daily Southerner
John H. Walker
Operational hours at Braswell Center and M. L. Ray Center, an item that had been previously discussed in December and was to have been on Monday’s agenda for the Tarboro Town Council, was added just prior to a motion to go into closed session and garnered the most discussion during a meeting that lasted just 55 minutes.
Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Gay provided council members with an attendance tally for the previous 12 months for both facilities and said, “The centers are open Monday through Friday until 10 p.m. and the attendance doesn’t warrant that.”
Council member Taro Knight, who was elected as mayor pro tem earlier in the evening and has been persistent in his questioning about any reduction in hours of operation, didn’t challenge Gay.
“If we looked solely at the numbers, we’d probably decide to close it (Ray) completely,” he said. “My concern is with the programs. According to the numbers, we have more young people in that area than ever before, yet we can’t get them there (to Ray).”
Council members Garland Shepheard and Deborah Jordan joined in the discussion when Shepheard asked Gay, “Is here a way to find out from those people in the neighborhood why they don’ go (to Ray)?”
Jordan added, “What about using roundtables to ask kids what they want to do?”
Knight became agitated when a discussion of the facilities at the park focused on the gymnasium’s not being air-conditioned.
“Coming up, I probably played as much basketball as anybody in Tarboro, but all of our kids don’t need to play basketball. Let’s think of something else.”
The area’s reputation as being a bad part of town with bad kids was also mentioned.
“There is a perception about that part of town,” Knight said, “but the fact of the matter is crime doesn’t happen in Tarboro.”
While agreeing to get the parks committee involved in a further review of the hours, Gay requested council to approve a schedule that would allow for consistency for the public.
During what Gay termed the “school season,” Braswell will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday. Ray will be open from noon until 8 p.m. Monday thru Friday, from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30-5 p.m. on Sunday.
The summer schedule will be revisited before implementation.
In other action:
• Council held a public hearing (no input) before unanimously approving a text amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance.
• Unanimously agreed to co-sponsor the 7th Moving for Community Outreach 5k Run on Saturday, April 6. The run has grown from generating $2,200 the first year with less than 50 participants to raising $14,000 in 2012 with a field of 288 participants.
• Unanimously approved a professional services agreement with The Wooten Company for the preparation of an application for funds from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to replace three sewer lines that are deteriorated. The lines are a 24-inch sewer line that currently projects over the Tar River, a 24-inch sewer line that crosses Hendricks Creek under the train trestle a Riverfront Park and an eight-inch sewer line that crosses Hendricks Creek behind Hilma Circle.
Public Works Director Troy Lewis said the cost to replace the three lines is roughly estimated at between $850,000 and $950,000.
• Unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a public hearing on the proposed annexation of 52.31 acres of noncontiguous land owned by Education Capital Solutions, LLC into the Town of Tarboro. The public hearing on the land — the site of North East Carolina Prep School — will be held Monday, Feb. 11.
• Reappointed finance director Karla McCall as treasurer of the Fireman’s Relief Fund Board of Trustees to serve a two-year term, which will expire in January 2015.
The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11.