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'Drilling down' won't meet our recreational needs

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sadly -- but predictably -- that's certainly the case with recreation opportunities in Franklin County.

More than 20 years ago, a recreation study group documented that one of the amenities that many Franklin Countians wanted was a public swimming pool.

That wasn't a surprise, especially since the idea of a public swimming pool had been floating around since the late 1940s when members of the Greatest Generation returned stateside and set about building a better nation for their children and grandchildren.

Here in Franklin County, the Lions Club and the Rotary Club joined forces, raised money and purchased a site that they believed would work for a public swimming facility not only for recreation but also to help "waterproof" children and protect them from drowning.

That idea, from what we can tell, was simply allowed to wither away -- and the pool was never constructed.

With that long history, it is amazing that those conducting this latest recreation survey "discovered" (if that's the proper word) that Franklin Countians still want a public swimming pool for their children -- and maybe some more greenways so they can go outside to get some fresh air and much-needed exercise.

Of course, the cynics among us are left to wonder why money is being wasted on yet another recreation survey when nothing much has changed since the last one was done 20-plus years ago. Wouldn't that money have been better used for actual projects instead of just another in a countless series of studies?

Besides, what would anyone expect from a new study, except perhaps that more new people have moved to Franklin County with even higher expectations for county services, because they have lived elsewhere where such improved opportunities are not only available, they are demanded?

The need -- and the demand -- for services like recreational swimming, additional greenspaces and more opportunities for young people to enjoy recreation don't just evaporate. The need stays in place -- and it is pointless to continue to survey residents to confirm what we already know, indeed what we have been told by local residents for decades.

But in typical Franklin County fashion, the response to this latest survey completely misses the point -- again.

County Manager Angela Harris, when she learned that many residents were not satisfied with how the county is using its tax dollars for parks and recreation, said budget sessions would be a good opportunity to let people know how the county has supported parks and recreation.

"... I see that as maybe an opportunity for us to drill down a little bit more to help inform the public of the bang for the buck that their tax dollars are getting with recreation," she said. "We can elaborate on that a bit in the budget."

To which we respond, "Madam Manager, you can drill all the way to China -- then turn around and drill all the way back" and that won't put us one inch closer to meeting the demands of local residents for better recreational opportunities.

And as for spending your time telling us "how the county has supported parks and recreation," you've missed the point and are sadly underestimating Franklin County residents.

We know how the county has supported parks and recreation -- we live here and we use those facilities, such as they are, on a regular basis.

And they are clearly not what we want -- and they are not adequate for a growing, developing county.

Let's quit making excuses and trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Let's stop talking -- and start doing.

Form an independent Recreation Committee to explore getting a YMCA-like facility in the county, to explore how to finance an aquatic facility for our young people, especially those in high school and college, and to start seriously working on extending greenways and hiking trails.

And then -- and this is critically important -- fund the effort at a realistic level with sustainable sources of revenue that are not dependent on the whims of politics.

Then -- and only then -- can you brag about the "bang for the buck" that residents' tax dollars are bringing to recreation.


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Members Opinions:
April 25, 2019 at 9:24am
It will never work not in LOUISBURG!



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