A proposed change of operational hours for two of the town’s recreation centers could be met with stiff opposition. The proposal was submitted to the town council at the council’s December meeting.
The proposal would close the Braswell Center and the M.A. Ray Center on Sundays and place the Ray Center on two different schedules — summer and seasonal operational hours. The Braswell Center would have just one schedule.
The changes would terminate the present schedule, which include separate summer, fall and winter/spring schedules for both centers. In addition, those hours fluctuate for basketball, football and summer vacations.
Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Gay, who was not in attendance the night the proposal was brought before the council, said the proposed schedule will “develop new year-round operational hours, will present a consistent message for recreation center patrons as well as benefiting the fitness room participants, facility rental clients, picnickers and playground users.”
A citizen advisory recreation committee is in favor of the proposal.
Councilman Taro Knight is against the proposal. His concerns are the centers, especially Ray, not opening on the weekends during the summer months.
Gay explained that Ray has not opened on weekends during the summer months for several years.
Knight argued that the town should step up its recreational activities during the summer months when children are more susceptible to having idle time.
“I don’t understand the concept of being closed during the summer months,” Knight said. “Kids need things to do and we should provide it for them. I don’t know if it closed because of the lack participation or what. But if it is closed because of the lack of participation, then we need to look into methods to improve it. We have to start programs to bring the kids to our gym to help keep them off the streets.”
Councilman Al Hull said he wants what best for the children and the town.
“I think that it should be opened,” he said. “But the lack of participation will not justify opening the doors and nobody going there.”
Councilman Garland Shepheard admitted that he did not the full details of the schedule. He questioned the closing of the Ray Center.
“Why would you have one open and not the other one?” he asked. “That will be something that we will discuss in our January meeting.”
Gay took over the director’s position in 2011 following the retirement of Jarvis Pettaway. The present schedule was in place when Gay took over. She said her staff has been mulling over the changes for about 10 months.
“This is just a proposal that we feel is best” she said. “It’s up to the council. Whatever they say or what the citizens want, we will do it. After all, it’s for their use, anyway.