Siler City Parks to see upgrades

BY CASEY MANN, News + Record Staff
Posted 2/7/19

Parks in Siler City have seen improvements over recent months with more expected.Siler City Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Keel presented some of the updates with the Siler City Board of Commissioners on Monday and requested approval for some of the changes.

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Siler City Parks to see upgrades

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Posted

SILER CITY — Parks here have seen improvements over recent months with more expected.

Siler City Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Keel presented some of the updates with the Siler City Board of Commissioners on Monday and requested approval for some of the changes.

“Landrus Siler Park has seen a transformation over the past couple of months,” Keel said.

Parks and Recreation staff have completed a renovation at the park including addressing all safety hazards, removal of some equipment, and the installation of other equipment. The multi-purpose filed has been incorporated into the maintenance and fertilizer plan and will host Chatham Soccer League teams this upcoming spring and fall season.

The department has also requested funding in the upcoming budget cycle to replace the roof at the shelter. In addition, plans include re-asphalting the basketball court and adding new crushed stone for the parking area. Keel notes that with the extra attention the park has received from staff over the last year, interest and participation at the Landrus Siler City Park has increased.

Keel asked the board to consider investing in lighting improvements at the Bray Park Sports Complex. Three of the four fields at Bray are equipped with newer lighting that had been installed in a cooperative project with Duke Energy. Unfortunately, Duke no longer hosts that program. The fourth field lighting has not been updated since its construction in the 1960s, according to Keel.

Keel said that those lights trip breakers after about 10-15 minutes of use, noting that once the breaker trips, it usually takes about a day before the lights will come back on. In addition, the old wooden poles that hold the lights are unstable and are beginning to be a safety concern for the department. Keel said he has spent about $8,000 in the past year on electricians in hopes to resolve the problem to no avail. The last lighting contractor that worked on the lights recommended replacing the lights.

“At this time, staff can’t schedule games on field 2 after the sun goes down,” Keel wrote in a memo to the board.

Keel noted that recent estimates to replace the lights were about $150,000, significantly higher than the department’s annual capital improvement project budget. Keel requested that the Board appropriate funding secured via a “payment in-lieu” deal be used for the project. Keel noted that this investment from the town, plus the Chatham County grant funding for parks would help in the department’s grant seeking efforts as it would demonstrate a specific project as well as town “buy-in.”

The $53,000 in funds were the result of an agreement between the town and Cambridge Southeast Estates, a manufactured home park developed near the Landrus Siler Park. The developer asked to make a payment to the town instead of building the required parks and green spaces inside the neighborhood. By statute, those funds must go to the closest park or the town’s main park which is Bray Park.

The board unanimously approved the request after discussing the potential revenue losses that may occur if the work is not complete. Presently, the town earns about $600 per weekend by hosting tournaments. Keel raised concerns that tournaments may choose to book elsewhere if they are unable to completely utilize all the fields at Bray Park.

Following that discussion, Keel shared with the board that his department and the Chatham Soccer League had brokered a tentative deal for a recreational soccer league in Siler City. The parks and recreation department had been researching implementing a soccer program in town but with limited staff and the implementation of ten new programs over the past year, Keel noted hesitation that the department could create and manage the program.

At the same time, the Chatham Soccer League has been using the town’s facilities at no cost, something that had been occurring for years though Keel could not find any documentation of an agreement. The staff approached the Chatham Soccer League last November with a proposal to continue to allow the group to use the facilities free of charge. In exchange, the league would allow Siler City residents to participate in the league at a discounted rate.

That normal cost for Chatham Soccer League’s programs are between $130 and $150, which may be unrealistic for some in the Siler City community, according to Keel. Chatham Soccer League agreed to charge Siler City residents only $25 to participate, which is similar to other Siler City Parks and Recreation athletic program fees.

The Siler City Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the deal that was negotiated.

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