It is a plan encompassing the three parks which have traditionally serviced the Southgate, South Rosemary and Lincoln Heights communities and is designed to make improvements along the Highway 158 corridor.
City Parks and Recreation Director John Simeon said following the meeting early discussions of the masterplan have included the possibility of some type of aquatic element for Chaloner Park such as a splash pad.
The decision to begin implementing the masterplan came after Simeon presented a report to council on meetings with United State Congressman G.K. Butterfield’s office and Recreation Resources to seek grant opportunities for the Chaloner pool project.
Butterfield’s office suggested the possibility of a low interest loan from USDA or the Rural Center but did not have recommendations regarding grant opportunities, he said.
Recreation Resources suggested Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grants and Kate B. Reynolds.
The Chaloner pool project, Simeon said, would not score high enough for a trust fund grant and Reynolds does not fund pools. “They could not recommend any other grant or funding opportunities. With city administration seeking both state and federal opportunities I feel we have researched our opportunities and unfortunately cannot find additional grants or funding for this project at this point.”
Cost estimates place the price between $594,000 to $649,000 for a new pool.
Councilman Wayne Smith made the motion the city should proceed with the masterplan.
Councilman Carl Ferebee, who has fought for the pool repairs, renovations or construction said he would like to get back to the community to discuss Simeon’s report before taking a vote on the matter.
Smith, however, was not willing to withdraw his motion.
“We’ve discussed this for months,” Councilwoman Suetta Scarbrough said. “We wanted to get facts of what it would cost.”
Ferebee said there could possibly be other resources available. “It should not be too long a period of time. I’m asking for a community meeting.”
Ferebee said he would like to have a meeting with council. Short of that, he said, he would hold one by himself. “There are other things we could be talking about … There’s always the possibility and different priorities. I’m asking for one more meeting.”
Smith would not withdraw the motion. “We’ve been going over this for 15 months. If there was some other way to raise money, we’ve exhausted all the ways to raise money to do the pool. We’ve waited two years on the masterplan, we need to go ahead and get something done.”
Smith said he was aware early discussions of the plan included a water feature but input from citizens will be sought during two public hearings. “Chaloner Park from my understanding will be the first one. It will be what the community wants. There’s no money for a pool because K.B. Reynolds won’t fund it.”
Smith, Scarbrough and Ernest Bobbitt voted for moving forward with the masterplan while Ferebee and Carol Cowen voted against the measure.
One of the earliest public discussions of the masterplan came during a meeting on 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.
Simeon said then the city already received $17,000 in funds for a masterplan for the project which includes Chaloner Recreation Center and Wheeler and Martin Luther King parks.
The masterplan allows the city to seek grants from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation and also the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund for this project.
The city can apply for a maximum of $150,000 from Reynolds and $500,000 from the parks and recreation trust.
Reynolds has been a part of the project since 2015, Simeon said at the time. The amount the city would apply for would be based on the public meetings.
Wheeler Park is in need of playground equipment and picnic tables. He noted then Chaloner's pool was failing and the playground is prone to flooding.
Possible improvements to MLK park may be benches, more lighting and a walking trail.