The City of Newberry has partnered with Bob Brookover from Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department to produce a master plan for the Newberry Recreation Complex.
The master plan is intended to serve as a non-binding guide for the future development of the complex. Brookover met with City Council Wednesday to facilitate a work session and solicit feedback.
City Manager Matt DeWitt said many had approached city staff about wants and needs for the recreation complex and they thought the best thing to do was to put a pen to paper to provide some guidance as additions are made to the park.
Brookover said while he knew a good bit about Newberry and what all had been accomplished, this discussion would be focusing in on the recreation complex and what would be possible there.
“Looking at trend information and data on the types of recreational activities, amenities and services that people are looking for, talking with you all and talking with staff about some of those options as well,” he said.
With conceptual level projects such as this, Brookover said that council would receive basic information including cost estimates and as the city had the opportunity to move forward, that they could pick things from this master plan as they moved along.
“Whether it’s one at a time or multiple projects together,” he said.
To ‘cast a wide net,’ Brookover said that once the conceptual ideas for projects had been put together, it could potentially be sent to the public for further feedback if council was interested in pursuing another work session.
Brookover solicited feedback from council and received a variety of ideas to put into a plan. Councilman Lemont Glasgow suggested an outdoor amphitheater in the park along with expansions to the park’s current Gully Washer Splash Park area. The amphitheater, Glasgow said he would love to see hold the capacity of 400-500 individuals.
With comments from Councilman David DuBose that some had expressed concerns of need a more separate area for younger and older children to play, rather than intermingle within the spray park, the idea of making the area more multidimensional was discussed.
Several members of council including Mayor Foster Senn and Councilman Edwin Wicker mentioned the possibility of adding hard surface trails to the facility, with Senn mentioning an area that cyclists could bike throughout the complex.
DeWitt asked Brookover if they could potentially look into considering opportunities to add distance to a trail by adding a walking or bike lane to the existing paved roads that weaved through the complex.
Senn said that from the start, council’s goal in the recreation complex was to create something for everyone.
“While we’ve done a pretty good job so far, we want to continue to diversify it,” he said.
Councilwoman Jackie Holmes and Councilman David Force opened a discussion on a potential area for those that enjoyed skateboarding.
Brookover said that if that was something considered by council, they’d need to weight the cost of doing that versus how many members in the community would get use out of the area.
The option of a potential miracle league field in the park was mentioned Wednesday, with Senn said the Newberry County Disabilities and Special Needs Board had shown interest in that being added to the complex.
Brookover said miracle league fields could be used for a variety of purposes and fill many needs including kickball, wiffle ball and be used for children’s practices, including t-ball.
Another goal of council for the complex, Senn said was to make it fun, educational and pretty. With that in mind, Senn thought more educational aspects could be needed to included an arboretum with a shelter that could house a classroom for outdoor learning as well as utilizing the cabin located on the property as an education center.
Other considerations discussed by council included the need for possible recreational vehicle parking for tournaments or guests, a more accessible entrance to the park’s pond and an expansion of the accessible playground equipment to create more options for children.
Overall, Brookover said the city had the right bones as far as the recreation complex was concerned, however there were things they could do to polish it up. Meeting with council, he said was helpful to get a feel for what they would like to see.
A written report, conceptual ideas and a consideration of where components might fit best will be presented to council in the near future.