Finance Committee approves additional funding for Belview project

Belview Recreation Center

Finance Committee  approves additional funding  for Belview project
December 23
11:09 2020

Despite concerns raised by Councilmembers Annette Scippio and John Larson, the Finance Committee has approved $1 million in additional funding for the renovation and expansion of Belview Recreation Center. 

In April 2019, the Winston-Salem City Council approved a motion that called for the reconstruction of Belview Recreation Center, which is located on Burgundy Street in the Southeast Ward. The initial $3 million set aside for the project was to be funded using the city’s debt capacity and Southeast Ward development bonds that were approved by voters in 2018.  

Original plans for Belview included a new gymnasium, dedicated classroom, and work space for the S.O.A.R. and Youthbuild programs, a computer lab, meeting room space for community groups, a new playground, improved parking, and lighting inside and outside the facility. 

After meeting with architects, it was determined that it would be more feasible to renovate the current facility instead of going with a total rebuild. And after several community meetings, city officials learned that the residents wanted to see the new gymnasium expanded to include an indoor walking track. According to Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan-Ford, the expansion would also allow for future bleacher seating. 

When discussing proposed changes to the project during the committee meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14, Logan-Ford did mention that expanding the gym would reduce the classroom size and meeting space. Currently, the meeting space at Belview can hold a little over 100 people. Future plans would reduce that number to 73 people. Logan-Ford said the changes to the original plan would cost about $977,000. 

“The cost of the project originally was $3 million,” Logan-Ford said. “With the changes, we need to identify an additional $977,000 to build out this program of work.” 

To cover additional costs associated with the project, Councilmember James Taylor, who is publisher of The Chronicle, suggested using $500,000 from 2018 park and recreation bonds and covering the remaining cost with development bonds.

Councilmember Scippio, who represents the East Ward, had issues with half of the remaining park and recreation bond dollars going to one project. Scippio said she would like to see the funds used to acquire land to build new parks in the city. 

“Over the years we have annexed a lot of property into the city and I would like Parks and Recreation to look at where we don’t have parks,” Scippio continued. “We have annexed thousands of people into the city and they don’t have any services. So before we utilize all of our acquisition money, I think we should be prudent enough to look throughout the community and see where we’re going to need money to give those persons some services.” 

Councilmember Larson, who represents the South Ward, raised some of the same concerns, but said he would like the money to address maintenance issues. He said there are major maintenance needs at several parks and recreation centers throughout the city. 

“We’re already allocating $3 million to Belview,” Larson said. “I know there are parks in the South Ward, for example,that are in great need of maintenance that are being deferred and deferred and deferred. If we’re going to be spending money, I’d like to see us bring it back to upgrade the parks we currently have, not spend another half million out of that pot basically into one particular park.” 

Mayor Pro Tempore Denise “DD” Adams spoke in support of the funding method. She said Belview is one of the city’s oldest parks and in need of a facelift.

 “Within a lot of the aging communities, particularly African American communities and our Latino Hispanic communities, our parks are very old and that’s part of the reason over the years we decided to put money aside for the development or expansion of parks in the city,” Adams said. “The Belview Park is one of the oldest parks. If you’ve never been there, you go there and you’ll see the need.” 

Mayor Allen Joines also spoke in support of the motion. He said, “It is an old facility built back in the 70s and I think as we’re getting ready to renovate and add to it, now is the time to do it right. You only get one chance to do it right and it’s so much better to do it as we’re building it. It would cost double this amount if we had to go back and try to expand it later on.” 

The motion to approve additional funding passed unanimously. Now the motion will move forward for approval by the full City Council. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 4.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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