The just released Plan2Play Parks and Recreation Master Plan is chock full of information about Greensboro, the history of Greensboro and, of course, the multitude of parks and recreational facilities in and around the city.
But when you look at the map of all the parks and recreation facilities in the city, the fact that City Council District 5 is not just getting the short end of the stick, it’s hardly getting any stick at all, is hard to miss.
The City Council is obsessed with equity for the five council districts, despite the fact that many people in Greensboro have no idea which council district they live in. But councilmembers are intimately aware of where the district lines are and discuss at length which district is getting what. Even rezoning requests hinge at times on what district the request will benefit.
Looking at the map of recreational facilities the largest number are in east Greensboro in District 1 and District 2. All the older parts of the city do pretty well and District 3 and District 4 have a good share, but then when you look at District 5, which generally loops around the western part of the city all the way from Holden Road to Horse Pen Creek Road, you see large blank spaces with no city recreational facilities at all.
The Plan2Play report states that a primary focus should be placed on repairing, renovating and maintaining the parks and recreational facilities the city has and that’s a good point. The city shouldn’t be building new facilities when it isn’t willing to maintain the facilities that it has. But it’s not hard to see why that happens. It’s a lot more fun to build new facilities and councilmembers don’t get to go to a groundbreaking and a grand opening for an old recreational facility that is getting a new roof or having the bathrooms put in working order.
But along with maintaining what the city already has, there should also be some money put toward having some equity in the distribution of parks. In some parts of town people can walk out their door turn left or right, walk a quarter of a mile and come upon a city recreational facility. In District 5 some residents can walk five miles and still not be at the closest recreational facility.
If the city wants to be equitable, it needs to be equitable with all of its citizens not just the ones who live in east Greensboro or in older neighborhoods.
District 5 Councilmember Tammi Thurm described her district as the “red headed step child” of the city.
She said, “I don’t know why it’s like that other than they haven’t invested in parks as the city has grown to the west.” She noted that many of the parks were in the older portions of the city and had been established before areas of her district were annexed.
Thurm said, “I don’t think the budget has been there to invest in parks in more recent years.”
She added, “The parks we do have in District 5 really need some help.”
Thurm noted that the city was talking of expanding some of the walking trails in the western part of the city. She also said that some of the developments in District 5 like Adam’s Farm have a lot of open space and greenways, but they aren’t city parks.
The residents of District 5 are asking for more parks according to Thurm and she said, “I hope to work on it during my tenure.”