STARKVILLE — Starkville Parks and Recreation Executive Director Brandon Doherty updated the board of aldermen on the department’s finances, upcoming projects and amended park hours at a board work session Friday.
Currently, Parks and Recreation has outlined 90 projects to complete over the next few years. These plans include building a bathroom at the J. L. King pavilion, replacing the gym floor at the Outlaw Center and installing cameras, gates and lights at Moncrief Park. Doherty said the department examined each park and figured out the needs of them individually.
“We’re continually trying to do as much as we can in house, so we can do more things,” Doherty said. “So, we’ve really reduced our contract labor, and that’s why you’ve seen us accomplish so many things this year.”
Doherty said Parks and Recreation spent $251,000 throughout the 2020-2021 fiscal year to make improvements. Due to volunteers and interns, the department saved roughly $41,000.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in material costs, Doherty said Parks and Recreation has struggled to find affordable pricing for some projects he wants to accomplish, such as a renovated parking lot at the Starkville Sportsplex. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said she understands that while prices may appear high, everyone is grappling with this issue currently.
“People have been dealing with things like this in their personal lives and small projects that they’re doing,” Sistrunk said. “We’re not the only city that’s facing these sorts of things.”
Doherty said the department also set new hours for all of the parks. Daily general use times will be from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., but basketball and tennis court and soccer and baseball field usage will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bathrooms will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Not many people use the parks after 9 p.m., Doherty said, allowing the department time to properly close down all facilities.
“This gives us time to go out with somebody to do those rounds, instead of having somebody on staff specifically for a few hours where they’re not working just to make sure the lights and bathroom are closed out,” Doherty said.
The pool at Moncrief Park opens May 27, Doherty said. The hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Prices include $3 for single usage ages 5 to 12 and $5 for 13 and older. Seasonal prices are $75 for an individual and $150 family for a family of four with each additional family member for $25. Military members and veterans are free with an ID card.
Doherty emphasized the pool’s parental release form policy. Children younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult in the pool, ages 9 to 12 must have an adult in the facility and 13 and older do not have to be accompanied by an adult but must have a signed release form from a guardian. The purpose of this, he said, is to prevent parents and guardians from dropping off their kids at the pool and leaving them there all day, creating a liability for the city.
“What we’re trying to do is manage that in a way that still allows kids at a certain age to use the pool, that doesn’t turn our lifeguards where their jobs go from saving lives to being straight-up babysitters,” Doherty said.
While Parks and Recreation has been busy over the past few months to generate these new projects and procedures, Doherty said, the department could not carry out any of its plans without the help of Mayor Lynn Spruill and the board of aldermen.
“We’ve been very busy. Even though our staff is great, and they do care, and they love this job, and they love the people of this community, we can’t do that without your (board of aldermen) support,” he said.