Friday, September 5, 2014
To the Editor:
Regarding your Aug. 27 editorial, which carried the headline “Deceiving the public,” I respectfully disagree with your premise that Georgetown County Council failed the public either by misleading them or by being negligent in gathering information about how the gym area at the Howard Center would be used.
Neither council nor county staff has been deceptive in any discussion surrounding plans for the Howard Center.
When residents from that area of the county made it clear that keeping a gymnasium at the Howard Center was important to them, Council and county staff heard their wishes and changed plans that had long been in place to ensure the community could keep this resource which it so highly valued.
The current plans call for a full-size, fully renovated gym to remain at the Center. An article your newspaper published on Aug. 22 suggests this would be “a gym in name only,” because plans for programming don’t include having league play in this facility.
Once again, I disagree with your premise.
The exclusion of league play at the Howard Center will not make this any less of a resource for the community and members of the public who wanted to keep a safe place in their neighborhood where people of all ages would be able to enjoy recreational opportunities.
For the purposes of planning facilities and activities, Georgetown County is split into four regions: Georgetown, Waccamaw, Andrews and the Northwest.
It has become standard practice by the county for every county-administered league sports program to be conducted at one facility within a region.
All league baseball games, for example, are played at Eight Oaks Park, as that is the designated facility in the Georgetown Region. There are a number of other baseball fields in the region, which are regularly used for practice by league teams, for pick-up games, etc., but all league games are played at Eight Oaks.
For basketball and volleyball, the Beck Recreation Center is the designated facility for the Georgetown region’s league play.
It has been determined to be the best site for league activities and has the staffing necessary to host league play.
There was no effort to hide this fact or mislead anyone about activities that would take place at the Howard Center.
Again, the Beck Recreation Center is already established as the region’s designated site for league play, and this is a standard and known practice in the county.
League play will remain there until such time as the number of participants exceeds the capacity at Beck and necessitates moving some games to another facility.
Council does not see a duplication of programs as a good use of public resources.
The gym at the Howard Center, like other facilities in the county, will offer free play for various age groups and can host practice for league teams.
Like any gymnasium in the county, this facility will be designed with flexibility in mind and can be used for a number of events and activities that appeal to a range of people.
The fact that it will not be used for league competition does not make it a “gym in name only” or a “museum-like” facility where children, parents and coaches will be asked to “stay behind the ropes.”
Recreational opportunities will be provided at the Howard Center in a way that meets public demand and offers the activities the community has asked for.
Programming will be managed and delivered both efficiently and economically, which does not allow for a duplication of programs.
We hope that county residents, as well as the Georgetown Times staff, will be understanding of our position.
Georgetown County Council