BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Despite the suggestion by Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Gay that more time was needed to study a proposed disc golf course, Ward 7 representative and Mayor Pro Tem Taro Knight said, “Let’s not plan this thing to death” just before making the motion that the town move forward with the development of a course, pending funding.
It was the second time in as many months for Knight to force action on the project, which lay dormant for more than a year after local residents Shirley Wainwright and Brian Schweberger met with Gay at Indian Lake Park. At that time, Schweberger, the current Professional Disc Golf Association Masters champion, walked the park with Gay and even designed a course utilizing an aerial map of the park.
At that meeting, Knight asked Gay is she was aware of disc golf and she acknowledged she was, having heard presentations at various conferences. Gay said she hadn’t done anything additional in regards to the course because she knew there were budget concerns.
Mayor Donald Morris suggested to Wainwright, PDGA board member Kirk Yoo and Schweberger that they bring a presentation to the August meeting, but Knight was a bit stronger in the discussion, asking for the detailed information and layout to be brought to the next meeting, but advising Gay to get with the group to participate in the process.
“If this can bring people to town and generate revenue, we don’t need to sit on it another year.”
On Monday, Gay made a visual presentation on the sport, including photos of courses in Rocky Mount as well as shots showing the proportionate size of a “hole” — a metal/chain basket on a pole — to an adult male. She also showed the audience a layout of a course in Rocky Mount, but not the one Schweberger designed more than a year ago.
She also noted that in addition to the Indian Lake Sports Complex, two other locations in town have adequate acreage to accommodate an 18-hole course — Riverfront and Clark Parks.
Gay said the cost of a course was approximately $500 per hole, with the completed price tag ranging from $9,000 on the low end to $14,000 or $15,000 on the upper end.
Gay said that while there were “many resources and partners” available, she didn’t know about how the project could be paid for, mentioning the town’s Capital Improvement Plan for the 2014-2017 period as well as applying for grants after the first of the year.
Council comments possibly discussing the project at the next council retreat and whether or not the course would interfere with other activities at the park, such as ball games, soccer or fishing.
Gay questioned how a proposed disc golf course would fit into the town’s recreation plan, then pitched the need for more time to evaluate the project and get organized, suggesting a return in September with a timeline after going through a four-step process she listed as plan, assess, prioritize and recommend.
After discussion by the council, which included concerns that the course not interfere with other activities at the park — including fishing and youth sports — Gay was asked about the level of use of the Rocky Mount courses, but said while she had obtained no statistics, but that Englewood Park looked to be heavily used.
After fielding a question about grant funding, Gay said the application deadline would be Jan. 31 and the decision would be learned by summer.
It was at that point that Knight made his motion and except for a concern voiced by Ward 8 representative Garland Shepheard over funding, the motion passed unanimously.
Wainwright later said she didn’t really understand the motion, since no location was specified, but that three hole sponsors had already been secured and Schweberger and Yoo were scheduled to speak to the Kiwanis Club Tuesday night.
“We’re excited that others saw the potential in this and understand this can be beneficial to the community and bring people to town,” she said.
In other action:
• Council heard a presentation on the community’s current crime statistics from Chief Damon Williams;
• Heard a presentation from Town Planner John Edmondson on revisions to the Flood Insurance Reform Act;
• Consented to adjustments to both the 2012 and 2013 tax levies;
• After extended discussion over collection procedures, consented to the preliminary report and annual settlement of the tax collector;
• Tabled for three months, at the request of Ward 5 representative Candis Owens, the approval of a memorandum of understanding between the Town of Tarboro and the Brough Law Firm. The vote was 8-0.
• Approved, after extended discussion, a budget amendment to accommodate matching funding required for a Governor’s Crime Commission grant to fund the purchase of new weapons and ancillary equipment for the police department. The vote was 7-1.
• Approved, after extended discussion, the designation of four parking places as one-hour spaces between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday in front of Tarboro Pediatric Psychology, located at 511 St. Andrew St. The vote was 7-1.
• Approved an employee classification and pay plan amendment for FY 2013-2014 to properly align the pay grades and steps. The vote was 7-1.
• Approved a departmental reorganization for the parks and recreation department. The vote was 7-1.
• Unanimously approved federally mandated solar energy interconnection agreements.
• Unanimously approved an engineering services agreement for a study and evaluation of flood-prone areas, specifically around Colony Drive and Morrison Avenue.
• Appointed Dana Alexander to a term on the Edgecombe Cultural Arts Council.
Council also adjourned into executive session at 9:40 p.m. for the purpose of evaluation town manager Alan Thornton. Council exited the closed session without taking any action and will meet in open session at 6 p.m. Monday before adjourning into closed session to conduct the evaluation.
In a story on Monday night’s town council meeting, there were two statements that contained incorrect information.:
• Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Gay has pointed out that a statement regarding a July 2012 walking of Indian Lake Park for the purpose of scouting a possible disc golf course was clarified to point out the walk-thru did not take place.
• The story indicated the purpose of the executive session was the evaluation of Town Manager Alan Thornton. That was surmised from the fact the previous year’s review had taken place at the August meeting. Mr. Thornton’s job performance was not discussed in the executive session.