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County wide recreation advances

WINTON – Recreation in Hertford County draws ever closer.

During the January 5 meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners, Mark Garner and Kelly Laskey gave an in-depth report of the recreation study project. After receiving the information, the board took a variety of steps to move forward.

Laskey spent much of her time going over the Comprehensive Recreation Plan that has been put together for the board. The plan includes information about all the parks and recreation already available in Hertford County and lays out plans for their future expansion.

“Current programs and facilities do not meet the needs of Hertford County citizens,” Laskey reported.

Rivers and Associates, for who both Laskey and Garner work, sent out 3,000 surveys to people in Hertford County seeking input about what was needed in recreation. Only 208 were returned, she said.

According to those forms which were returned, the three top needs in Hertford County are walking trails, play-in parks and picnic areas.

Following Laskey’s presentation, Garner laid out plans for upgrading the recreational facilities at the Elk’s National Shrine, which the county has leased for the next 25 years.

The plan calls for a multi-purpose field, basketball court, tennis court, upgrades to the swimming facilities, walking trails, baseball/softball field and picnic pavilions. The total cost is estimated between $4.4 and $4.5 million.

Garner said Phase I would include the multi-purpose field, tennis court, basketball court and one picnic shelter. The cost for Phase I is approximately $1.34 million, he said.

“All of this sounds good as we talk, but it is not easy,” Commissioner DuPont L. Davis said. “We should have had countywide recreation a long time ago, but it is not easy. It is going to take hard work. We have to get the right horses to pull this load.”

Commission Chairman Howard J. Hunter III said he agreed.

“This may sound expensive, but it is an investment not only in our children, but in all of our citizens,” he said.

Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams said the county has some money left from the Golden Leaf Foundation grant to use as leverage money for an application for a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant. Williams also assured the board she would not commit any money to the project to have it stop in the middle.

“There is no getting half way and not having the money to finish,” Williams said. “I won’t allow that to happen. However, without a plan, we cannot leverage the money that we are seeking.”

Commission Vice Chairman Johnnie R. Farmer made a motion to approve the Comprehensive Recreation Plan with Commissioner William F. Mitchell Jr. offering a second. It passed without objection in the absence of Commissioner Curtis A. Freeman.

After that vote passed, Mitchell moved to approve the Elks Shrine Master Site Plan with Davis offering a second. It also passed unanimously.

Mitchell and Davis also made and seconded the motion to apply for the PART F grant from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. There were no objectors.