Reynolds supporters dismiss Hanes Park master plan

Reynolds head football coach Pat Crowley voices his frustration with the Hanes Park Master Plan during a meeting held last Thursday. Crowley said city officials have failed to include the Reynolds family in their decision-making. (Photos by Tevin Stinson)

Reynolds supporters dismiss Hanes Park master plan
June 23
03:55 2016

A meeting to unveil renovations plans for Hanes Park quickly turned into a heated debate last Thursday evening when a group of supporters of Reynolds High School hijacked the drop-in meeting to voice their frustrations.

The initial purpose of the meeting, hosted by Winston-Salem Council Member Jeff MacIntosh, was to give stakeholders in the community a chance to see the $1.75 million in renovations expected to begin on the park later this year.

Bu all that changed when Reynolds’ head football coach Pat Crowley marched into the meeting with a large group of football players wearing the schools iconic black and gold colors.

While standing on a chair surrounded by varsity and junior varsity players inside the Wiley Middle School Library, Crowley read a prepared statement on the current condition of the school’s athletic facilities, and the need for improvements.

Since 2012, athletic boosters at the school have pushed for major renovations to the school’s gymnasiums, and the building of a football stadium on land owned by the school next to the park.

Later that same year, Home Field Advantage, a campaign to raise funds, was started by athletic boosters and other supporters of the Reynolds athletic department. Although it is unclear how much the campaign has raised thus far, the goal is $4.5 million, according to the campaign’s website.

As he addressed the dozens in attendance, Crowley said that while the main campus has benefitted from multi-million dollar renovations over the years, when talking about the athletic facilities, Reynolds quickly goes from first to last.

“Bryson Gymnasium has an incredible history and charm. However, it has been over 60 years since the building has been upgraded or renovated,” he continued. “There is no air conditioning in the entire building, the locker rooms, bathrooms and shower areas are an absolute disgrace.”

“The sad part is that Bryson is probably the schools best athletic facility.”

Crowley then named a list of issues currently plaguing the school’s auxiliary gymnasium, which it shares with Wiley. He also discussed the lack of space for other sports teams to practice play games, and host events such as the boys and girls soccer and lacrosse teams, track and field teams and a host of others.

“Our stadium is seven miles from campus. The track has pot holes and we haven’t hosted a home track meet in years.” said Crowley. “If you have any doubts, I’ll be happy to give you a tour of our facility.”

Another issue athletic boosters and school officials had with the detailed plans was, the fact that, the tennis courts located in the center of the park would remain, preventing the school from widening the track to include eight lanes instead of six. According to previous plans presented to the community on Dec. 9 of last year, the tennis court would be removed.

Principal Leslie Alexander mentioned that during the city’s planning process, the voices of Reynolds supporters were not always heard. She said, a number of families are concerned that city officials would create a master plan without including space for renovations that have been in discussion for a number of years. Alexander also mentioned that the original purpose of Hanes Park was to serve the schools in the area as well as the community. She said, it seems over the years, Reynolds’ families have been left out of the decision making process.

“I can’t speak for all the Reynolds families, but I know a number of families are concerned about that,” said Alexander. “They want to make sure their voices are heard when decisions are being made on land that belongs to the school.

“As principal its important for me to be here to say how I feel, but it’s more important that the families and students are heard.”

While a number of residents who attended the meeting were there to support Reynolds, not everyone who lives in the vicinity of the park thinks the stadium is a good idea. A group called Save Hanes Park (SHP) has worked against the building of the stadium since talks began in 2012. SHP representative Elizabeth D. Coyne said she is very enthusiastic about the master plan.

“Hanes Park is nearing its centennial and is one of the most used parks in the city. It is more than a neighborhood park; it is a city-wide park,” continued Coyne. “With so many groups invested in the park, it needs a master plan.

“I am grateful to Council Member Jeff MacIntosh for leading the effort to get a master plan in place.”

Freda Gordon, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years said, the stadium would create more traffic issues for the area. Gordon mentioned at times she can’t even cross the street because of speeding motorists.

“We already have enough traffic, and I think building a stadium would cause more problems,” she said. “I don’t think that’s something this community needs.”

After hearing the complaints, MacIntosh, who was viaibly distraught said he did not appreciate his meeting being hijacked for the purpose of discussing other issues. He went on to say although gymnasium renovations and the inclusion of the stadium were not included in the master plan, that doesn’t mean they cannot be added in the future.

“The money for this master plan is for the specific purpose of repairing things that needed to be repaired, maintenance, and beautification,” he said. “We aren’t saying other things can’t happen, but our money was for a purpose, we raised it, and that is how were are going to spend it.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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