The Peachtree City Council recently heard from the city’s Recreation and Special Events Advisory Board on various issues, and options, for furthering recreation within the city while managing tax dollars.
Shayne Robinson, Chairman of the Recreation & Special Events Advisory Board, said the city’s Recreational Master Plan had not been seriously looked at in quite a while, so the board undertook evaluating the current recreation trends and offered possible solutions going forward.
“We hadn’t touched this plan in years,” Robinson told council. “We needed to fix and reorganize parks and recreation, we needed to fix a lot of bridges, and that’s what we did.”
Robinson broke down her presentation into several parts.
On the topic of sports fields, which are used for various leagues and can also attract tournament play, Robinson noted that city fields draw around 20-percent of their use from out of county.
“[That is] really good because that 20-percent is revenue coming in, people,” Robinson said.
She said the city currently is attracting smaller “boutique style tournaments,” with six scheduled at the moment. She said attracting larger tournaments may be an option, but there is a lack of adequate parking and some concern for overuse of the fields.
“Currently, I think we’re doing just fine,” she concluded regarding tournaments, adding that thus far she didn’t think any tournaments had displaced events for local sports associations.
Robinson said the city has a very effective partnership with the Board of Education for use of school facilities to satisfy needs for indoor court space. On the whole, she said Peachtree City has more basketball courts than the national standard.
“We do want to review the usage of the city basketball courts,” Robinson said, to understand which courts are being used at what level.
More than one councilman was surprised to hear the city had no need for extra basketball court space.
“I thought courts were at a premium, which is why we use the school system’s facilities,” Kim Learnard said, speaking specifically of indoor courts.
Robinson said it’s possible “recreational courts” could be bolstered, but for actual indoor leagues and organized play the capacity in the city is very adequate.
Robinson noted the city had recently invested money in upgrading some of the courts. In general, the Recreation Board found the outdoor courts, accounting for both private and public, to be at an “acceptable level.”
The Peachtree City Tennis Center on Planterra Way had raised some concerns, however. Robinson said participation numbers there are “very low compared to other sports,” with a last count of 260 members. She noted it is a “very large facility” with 26 courts, both indoor and outdoor, and that perhaps the facility could be repurposed to add some more indoor sport uses like soccer, lacrosse, or wrestling.
Robinson also noted that the center is due for nearly “half a million” in maintenance upkeep over the next two years.
“We want to make sure it’s money well spent,” she said.
Usage at some of the pools in the city has “dropped tremendously,” Robinson said. She pointed especially to the Glenloch pool facility, which she said brought in around $6,100 this year and only $5,000 last year, and ended up costing the city around $17,000 a year to maintain.
“In the zip code of 30269, there are just over 1,400 pools,” Robinson said. “Could we repurpose it? Yes, absolutely.”
She suggested the facility could be a location for a spray park, similar to the fountain at Centenniel Olympic Park, which has become a popular type of outdoor feature, particularly on the north side of Atlanta.
Robinson said a splash pool combined with the revitalized tennis courts and fields there would make Glenloch “a really neat community center.”
What was unclear was how much such a project would cost the city, with some figures tossed out like $80,000 or $150,000 or possibly more.
The matter of county funding for recreation was also discussed, as those funds have declined in recent years.
“We used to get $150,000 per year, now it’s dropped to $114,000 with no rhyme or reason,” Robinson said.
She observed that County Commission Chair Steve Brown, a Peachtree City Resident and former mayor, had “years ago” made a “big push that we weren’t getting enough funding and the [funding] formula was unclear.”
Robinson said it was a “sign of the times” that the city parks may need security cameras for issues of vandalism.
“We have been getting vandalism. The usual summer, kids are bored. I do think it is needed,” Robinson said of cameras.
The inline hockey rink at Kedron has seen declining participation numbers, and Robinson suggested city staff “evaluate the options for maximizing” the facility.
“Back in the day the hockey rink was a hive of activity, we were pushing 350 or 400 users at one stage,” Robinson said. “The numbers were huge, the sport was hot. The sport has died down.”
She noted that this was another facility slated for some repairs that would cost around $275,000. She said the facility used to include areas for 3-on-3 indoor soccer and basketball, and suggested these different uses could be considered again.
“Now the hockey’s died and we’re left with a $750K facility that needs some work. Where do we go from here?” Robinson asked.
A representative from the Peachtree City Hockey Association noted that the facility has struggled with attracting tournament play and granted there had been some “degradation in folks wanting to play,” particularly on the southside of Atlanta. He also noted, however, that issues like a leaky roof and some structural problems with the building were contributing to the struggle to bring people in and, if fixed, participation could improve.
Adding more walking trails in the city would be a “low maintenance” option to add “nice features” to the city, Robinson said. She said additional trails had been suggested in particular at Braelin as well as Meade Park.
While the aging population of the county is often seen as a negative, Robinson said the trend line is undoubtedly toward an older citizenry and that recreation needs to be tailored to fit that population.
She suggested more public/private partnerships similar to the one the city began last year with Fayette Senior Services at McIntosh Trail and The Gathering Place.