Signs of spring have been fleeting so far, but you can tell the season by our annual rush to patch Boyle County’s aging and leaky public swimming pool. Danville City Commission signed off on another temporary solution during its meeting last week.
That’s why it’s no surprise there is stirring from something called the Aquatics and Recreation Center (ARC) concept team, a private-public partnership that includes local schools, governments, health care providers and economic development organizations. As the name implies, the group was formed to look at bringing an aquatics center and gymnasium to Boyle County.
While any moves to address this specific need should be applauded, it’s time the city and county also got on the same page to develop an up-to-date comprehensive plan beyond maintaining Millennium Park and the unsustainable Bunny Davis Recreation Complex. The governments should engage residents about how to best serve all forms of recreation and forums for recreating, including the frankly embarrassing condition of some smaller parks.
Considering a major addition like an aquatics center and gym is a perfect opportunity to revisit the community’s overall vision, which has seemed cloudy recently.
Parks and Recreation Director John Drake has butted heads with the city several times over claims Danville budgeted for some items — including a pool liner that would potentially buy more time — but didn’t deliver on the promises. City and county officials have frequently raised concerns over a lack of information about how the department is run and whether there are enough self-sustaining programs offered, among other gripes.
How the Parks and Recreation Department is funded and operated are issues that must be resolved once and for all so more of the focus on long-term planning can shift to collaboration between local government and the many community stakeholders. Parks and recreation, as concepts, have to be more than a memo line on quarterly checks or the impetus for testy interactions during budget time.
Money will always be an issue, and some dedicated revenue stream may need to be discussed in the future. But if there aren’t clear objectives when funding does become available, it makes little difference.
Within the framework of an up-to-date blueprint, public-and-private partnerships, like the one coalescing around calls for a first-rate aquatics facility and the one that made Millenium Park a reality, can get to work on realistic projects.
Some version of this already is happening. The city’s Community Trails Committee has been busy during the last year looking for ways to make Boyle County bikeable and walkable, even hiring a consultant to map out trails. Along with the Parks and Recreation Department board and staff, many dedicated volunteers and parent groups have identified and addressed specific needs over the years.
These initiatives make it clear how many residents already understand that attractive, safe and accessible green space and well-run programs are hallmarks of a thriving community.
For those who view these as luxuries, consider that recreational amenities are major quality-of-life indicators that prospective residents and industries look for when deciding where to relocate. Visitors also bring their wallets, whether they’re in town for a ball game or a picnic.
Without comprehensive planning that places attainable projects in a larger context, it won’t just be water continuing to slip through the cracks in a pool each spring.