Plan to Plan

The recent (Jan. 22) Voice editorial “Who Knew?” underscored one of many concerns about the Fairfield County Recreation plan. The Ridgeway Town Council is spot-on in its opposition to the ill-conceived proposed location of the Ridgeway facility. Other previously expressed citizen concerns with the general County Recreation Plan include having a plan which starts out over budget (which was set by citizens via referendum) and the limited fitness opportunities provided by the $3.5 million (or more?) plan. My chief issue with the County Plan is it fails to address our long standing need for a genuine lasting park maintenance process. Why build more parks when we cannot maintain the ones we have?

Our inability to properly maintain parks is highlighted in the County’s 2010 Recreation Plan. The first recommendation of this plan was “Addressing deficiencies in existing infrastructure… [specifically naming needs] repairing or replacing existing facilities.” Another paramount recommendation was even more specific: “the county should hire additional maintenance staff.” One need look no further than Drawdy Park to get an accurate assessment of the County’s follow-through on these recommendations. Additionally, during the past year this writer and other citizens have urged the County to institute a solid parks maintenance program. Some progress has been made but our “centerpiece”’ park, Drawdy Park, is a dangerous eyesore which screams for maintenance and attention. Minor progress has been made but the park is still unsafe and is an embarrassment for the community. Broken equipment, trash, debris (including roof shingles), filthy restrooms, nasty exposed store rooms, prominent rust, broken doors , rotten picnic tables, doors off hinges and peeling paint are just a few of the remaining eyesores as of Jan. 25. Openly accessible culvert/drainage areas are clearly potentially tragic accident scenes in waiting. Pathways turned to gullies provide further opportunities for accidents. The details of many more Drawdy opportunities (including the still unfinished football field) are too numerous to mention here. The point is crystal clear, we must develop a park maintenance program (which facilitates both an immediate clean-up and long term quality maintenance) before we build more parks.

I have every confidence the new Council team will promptly address all the concerns expressed by me and many others before moving forward with the problematic Recreation Plan. I trust they are passionate about expanding our recreation facilities the right way.

Randy Bright

Ridgeway