The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday November 26th

Officials Meet to Discuss Joint Funding

The importance of recreation brought local officials together in a brainstorming session on constructing new area parks. Members from the Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Orange County Board of Commissioners attended an annual discussion Monday to express their hopes and concerns in funding and building potential parks. "I think everyone has their own plan, and now it's time to bring that into focus," said Commissioner Barry Jacobs. "It depends on how much their priorities match our priorities." With projects totaling $63 million, of which $47 million remains unfunded, officials discussed the possibility of a bond and how much revenue it could generate for the projects. "There will be a group to figure out what should be the components of the bond," Commissioner Alice Gordon said. The bond would be ready by January but would raise only a partial amount of needed funds. "The $47 million doesn't have to be accomplished in one bond," Commissioner Moses Carey said. "Even our current plans don't require us to address all funding in the next five years." Officials also considered alternatives to a bond. Chapel Hill Mayor Rosemary Waldorf said the county might raise a parks and recreation district tax slightly to generate revenue, but she was not sure if the tax existed. The county could also receive federal and state money to help pay for the parks' costs, said Alderman Jacquelyn Gist. Constructing an aquatics complex in Chapel Hill topped the list of most officials' goals. With 111,000 people residing in the county, two pools at Estes Park Center and Hargraves Center cannot house the volume of residents, officials said. "Economically, it's not feasible for a town to build a pool all by itself," Gist said. "It's pretty expensive, which is why we need to combine our efforts." Alderman Joal Broun emphasized the importance of making the complex accessible to people of all ages, not limiting it to schoolchildren. "I would like it to be more inclusive," she said. "It's a great method of exercise for a population that is getting older." Officials also expressed a need for a new soccer field as another prime importance. "Isn't it unbelievable that there's only one regulation size soccer field in the county?" Commissioner Stephen Halkiotis asked. "The bottom line is, we need soccer to tie into this." Other officials, like Gist, agreed. Soccer, she said, crosses age, gender and cultural bounds to create a voracious demand for the sport. "There's a tremendous need for soccer," she said. "More people play soccer than football." The meeting adjourned with both preliminary ideas to draft a bond along with a consensus to fund and build an aquatics complex and a soccer field as top priorities. "I was very pleased with the meeting," Gist said. "There was a general tenor of cooperation." Jacobs concluded by emphasizing the importance of providing more parks for the county in the immediate future. "We're long overdue in bringing together a coordinated effort," he said. "We need to expand our facilities in order to meet an expanding population." The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.


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