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NAACP notes ‘little improvement’ in Ahoskie Parks

AHOSKIE – Where is the help?

Tuesday morning that question was posed to the Ahoskie Town Council by Carl White, the president of the Herford County Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

White, who sent a letter to Ahoskie officials in May stating concerns about parks in the town, said he had seen “little improvement” in the maintenance of the Julius W. Futrell Park, the H.D. Cooper Park or the Freddie Hall Park.

White referenced a story published in the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on July 22 in which local officials promised help was coming for the parks owned by the town. He said, thus far, he had seen little.

“The parks are still missing swings, especially at the H.D. Cooper Park,” White said. “It’s not kept clean.”

Mayor Linda L. Blackburn said the Cooper Park was to be completely renovated under a Community Development Block Grant already approved for the town.

“I’m not sure what that has to do with keeping it clean,” White said. “I cannot see where that is related.”

Blackburn said it was not a good use of town funds to replace equipment at the park when the grant would do that in the near future.

White said he still didn’t believe that was the issue, but went on to say there is equipment missing at the other two parks.

“I fail to see what takes so long to put up a swing,” White said.

Blackburn said the town would again address the issue. She said that she was sure the parks were being grass being mowed on a regular basis and also addressed the issue of vandalism.

“When we get the parks fixed, because of vandalism, they are messed up again before we know it,” the mayor said. “I would ask that when we get them repaired you join us in an effort to do a community watch.

“If people are tearing it up, then fixing it is not getting any of us anywhere,” she added.

White said he wasn’t convinced vandalism was a problem, but Blackburn said she could assure him it was.

Parks and Recreation Director Dennis Everett then addressed White’s concerns.

“The parks are being mowed weekly,” he said. “The grass under one sliding board that was an issue has been taken care of with Round Up.”

Everett added that the only swings that were not up had been broken by teenagers and that one see-saw, deemed unrepairable because it was no longer made, would be removed.

“I haven’t mentioned the grass today,” White said. “When I said there was little improvement that was the little I was referring to.”

Everett said the growth behind the Cooper Park was on land not owned by the town.

Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond then said he had ordered swings and a new picnic table and that changes were coming. He also said he could not in good conscience spend money on the H.D. Cooper Park when there would be a $49,000 renovation project that would take care of the problem.

“Thank you for your concern,” Blackburn told White. “We have heard you.”