Let county recreation staff talk to the local volunteers

September 28, 2004

If you're going to spend $2.2 million on a community recreation center, doesn't it make sense to get some input from organizations that are already providing such services?

That's a fair question. It comes from representatives of six Jefferson County, W.Va., youth sports groups. They say that a decision to build a new center at Sam Michaels Park was made without anyone asking their organizations about the county's recreational needs.

County recreation officials said the new center is needed because they're running out of space elsewhere for programs such as dance classes, gymnastics and arts and crafts.

Jimmy Pierson, who represents the Jefferson County Youth Football League and Cheerleaders, suggested that it would make more sense to build the center at the new high school in the Huntfield development.


Pierson said doing it on that site would allow the center to share parking and restroom facilities with the school, saving cash that could be used to make the center bigger.

That might work, if county officials could work out traffic issues that might develop if, for example, there were a high school sports event on the same night as a gymnastics meet. And, we're not sure that in the age of heightened security, school officials would want participants in a recreation program coming into the school to use restrooms.

That said, there certainly should be some communication between county recreation officials and the community people who are providing recreation on a volunteer basis. As Jefferson County Commission member Jane Tab told The Herald-Mail's Dave McMillion, none of the money has been spent yet, so it's not as if the design of this facility has been set in stone.

We urge county officials to listen to these volunteers' input. Their service to the community merits at least that much.

As for the community at large, this is what happens when residential growth outpaces commercial and industrial development, as it has in Jefferson County over the last decade.

New residents often require more service than the taxes they pay can cover. Somehow that deficit must be made up. For volunteer groups, fund-raisers are necessary to cover the cost of doing what a more affluent county might provide through its tax base. Please remember that next time a dedicated volunteer asks you to buy a raffle ticket or make a donation.

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