Investment in city recreation will help deter crime

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Within the city of Franklin crime has risen to new dramatic levels, forcing reasonable people to call for more law enforcement. Farsighted officials are looking at ways to prevent a surge in gang activity in order to protect our community from all of the mayhem that comes with rampant lawlessness.

I suggest to our community that it is time for us to also look for ways to prevent crime. Let farsighted citizens come together and demand reasonable use of the City Recreation department to fight a surge in gang growth and anarchy in our streets. We must demand the following:

That the city’s parks and recreation plan should be immediately updated to meet the current needs of the community. The city must develop a master plan that uses city recreation as a crime prevention tool and as a deterrent to gang activity. The updated plan should be submitted to the City Planning Commission for review and inclusion into the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

That the city should reorganize the Recreation Advisory Committee. The newly structured committee should have a representative from the school system, public housing authority, police department, along with the current representatives from the political wards.

That the city should pursue regional recreation cooperation agreements with Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and the City of Suffolk. The city should direct the Advisory Committee to research, evaluate and recommend to the city the feasibility of sharing and delivering recreation services. Along with aiding in the development of cooperation policy between the City Recreation Department and the city school system. The committee should also examine the possibility of establishing cooperative agreements with non-municipal organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, the regional Library, the YMCA, etc.

That the recreation advisory committee develops and recommend five-year plans for the purchase of recreation equipment, and for the sharing of equipment and facilities with recreation partners. The Advisory Committee should review city and school system facilities for recreation uses. It should then forward a Capital Asset Budget Plan to the City Planning Commission for review and inclusion within the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

That the City should declare the old Hayden Building a historic building; acquire Community Development Block Grant funds, renovate the old gym and cafeteria wing for park and recreation use. The remainder of the building can be sealed off.

That the city renovate the Armory for recreation use.

Yes, we must overcome negative and apathetic opinions that some spew to poison our efforts to keep our city from becoming a high-crime city such as Richmond, Portsmouth or Newport News. We must not listen to them.

Our present investment in city recreation is not futile, and any attempts to drastically cut programs budgets should be fought. We must believe in the future of our youth. We must invest in them now in order to see the fruit of our investments tomorrow. If we de-emphasize, downgrade and remove programs from the City Recreation Department, we will doom ourselves to becoming a crime-laden community declining in a deep pit of despair and poverty.

If we fail to teach morals, and supply jobs, recreation and schooling to our children, they will supply drug wars, home invasions and street assaults to us.