by Keith Barber

Items from across the Triad and beyond’ 

Parks and rec commission examines breakdown of capital improvement spending

On the heels of questions raised by District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade and statements on the matter by at-large Councilman Robbie Perkins and District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small, the staff presented information to the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Commission about capital improvement spending over the past 20 years.

The totals included $24.9 million in District 1, $13.6 million in District 2, $9.6 million in District 5, $3.3 million in District 3 and $1.2 million in District 4. The city has spent $8.2 million on projects with citywide impact. Funding came for capital improvement projects in parks and recreation came from voter-approved bonds in the past decade The commissioners ranked uncompleted voter-approved projects by priority: War Memorial Stadium, the restroom facility at Gillespie Golf Course and an upgrade of the Grimsley pool.

Some big-ticket projects that have been approved for the next six years include construction of Keeley Park in northeast Greensboro at a cost of $6.8 million, improvements to Barber Park in the southeast part of the city for $3 million and artificial turf installation at Hester Park in the southwest for $2.6 million.

Keeley Park was among the projects listed in a parks and rec bond approved by voters in 2000. Nasha McCray, planning and project division manager for the department, said the park is about 30 percent completed, including dam restoration and much of the site work. Community gardens, a sprayground and concession areas are currently under construction, while athletic fields are part of the park’s future plans.

The Aquatic Center at the Greensboro Coliseum, which voters originally approved to the tune of $12 million in 2008, is well underway. Council voted to move ahead with the project to take advantage of competitive construction and labor costs during the economic downturn.

The Barber Park and Hester Park projects were approved in 2008. Improvements to Barber Park are in the design phase, but work at Hester Park has yet to begin.

McCray said none of the projects approved by voters in 2006 have been started, including $2.9 million for future parkland acquisition, $1.2 million for trail expansion, $375,000 for a recreation center at Hilltop Park and $575,000 for a skate park. McCray said the city has decided to build the skate park at Hilltop Park in southwest Greensboro.

Hagan to vote against tax compromise

US Sen. Kay Hagan, the Democrat from Greensboro, indicated on Monday that she plans to vote against the compromise legislation that extends Bush-era tax cuts to both middle-income people and those in the top income brackets, while extending unemployment benefits.

Citing the work of the bipartisan fiscal commission cochaired by fellow North Carolinian Erskine Bowles, Hagan said in a prepared statement: “It is time for Congress to tighten its belt, like American families must do daily. Every year Democrat and Republicans make empty promises about bringing down our deficit, and it’s time we started putting our money where our mouth is. While this bill includes provisions that I support, I could not vote in favor of a bill that would give tax cuts to people making over $1 million a year and add $858 million to our national debt.”