GARLAND — With a new park coming to Garland, town officials are ready to move forward with adding basketball courts. The project has been disputed for several years.
During a recent meeting, Garland Commissioners approved spending $13,000 for the court. With a tight budget, a decision was made to transfer capital outlay funds from the police department an buildings. Commissioners Judy Smith, Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson, and Carolyn Melvin were in favor of the court. Commissioner S.J. Smith voted no on it, for his belief involving safety.
Before the approval, Mayor Winifred Murphy spoke about a Facebook comment about someone having good memories of growing up in Garland. She alluded to how she wants youths to have the same experiences.
“That’s what we need to look at for our children of today,” Murphy said. “What kind of memories are they having of Garland?”
She questioned what kind of activities are available for children in the summer and believes the basketball court can help fill the void.
“It breaks my heart to see goals in the street where children are playing,” Murphy said. “The goals can get hit and the children can get hit.”
Murphy said the project can create good memories, which is one of the reasons she returned to Garland after living in the Raleigh-Cary area. She added that parents feel that there’s not enough recreational activities for children. The town recently created a softball league and brought the sport back to town, but Murphy would like to have more opportunities.
“We have to do something to move forward,” she said.
Like Murphy, Melvin was also eager to move forward with the project.
“I think we’ve been beating around, getting a basketball court ever since I came on the board about four years ago,” she said before making a motion for the vote. “It’s ridiculous.”
This was not Melvin’s first time voicing her frustration about the setbacks. The project has been discussed for several years. At one point money was approved, but it never developed because of financial mishaps with purchasing concrete and equipment.
Before the decision, S.J. brought up needs such as having paved streets. But Melvin responded and said there’s always going to be a need for building repairs and streets.
“This is a promise we made to the people,” Melvin said. “We actually got it approved before, but it seems like every time this subject comes up about the basketball goals, we can’t move money. But we do move money from other places to do other things.”
Melvin said he grandson was one the children playing basketball in the street because there’s no local court.
When it came to his safety concerns, S.J. said he has no problem with basketball court for children, but was worried about criminal activity around the area. Melvin believes that’s not going to be the case when it comes to illegal matters such as drugs, which was brought up in the past.
“People don’t need basketball courts to sell drugs,” Melvin said. “Drugs are still being sold and people are still going to buy them.”
She went on and mentioned how other areas such as Roseboro have basketball courts.
“When I drive past there, it’s in a (visible) location and we’re going to have police,” Melvin said in reference to a new law enforcement office being built.
During the meeting, Commissioner Judy Smith reported that Smith Brothers Paving will do the work. Another vote was made for the business to proceed with construction. S.J. voted against this action too.
For the basketball goals, Murphy said community donations and other sources of funding will be brought up in the near future.
The court is a part of one phase for the park named after Curtis D. Cain — a former commissioner and business entrepreneur. His daughter Connie Cain Rackley, donated the the 1.39 acres of land for the project. Some of the other plans include a walking track along the property and picnic tables. Playground equipment was recently installed for the park. A grand opening was held on Thursday.