By Jesse Wood
June 3, 2014. High Country Recreation will hold its third meeting out in the county to gauge interest and build support for a community recreation center in Watauga County. The meeting takes place in Parkway School’s cafeteria from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 9.
“While this event is held at the school, we want to have folks from across the age spectrum come and be a part of this conversation,” HCR President Scott St. Claire said in an email. “We want as many people to come as possible and don’t want it to be limited to parents with school-aged kids.”
A county recreation center has been the topic of discussion on and off for the past 30 years. Last September, a site analysis found that a YMCA business model in Watauga County isn’t viable. Now High Country Recreation has turned its focus to a county recreation center.
For more information, click to the following links:
Also, High Country Recreation has encouraged community members to personalize an attached letter addressed to the Watauga County Board of Commissioners to maintain the momentum.
Click here for more information and to download the letter. See entire letter below:
Dear County Commissioners,
Thank you for your service to the citizens of Watauga County by serving as county commissioners.
I urge you to plan for and build a community recreation center in Watauga County. As the YMCA is not a viable option, the county needs a long term vision to make this happen. An indoor recreation center has been identified as a need in our community for decades and has been part of the long term planning for the county and town during that time. A survey from ASU in 2010 showed overwhelming community support for an indoor recreation center. Of 26 counties the same size as ours, only two counties do not have a community recreation center (either a YMCA or a public facility): Watauga County and Franklin County. At least the residents of Franklin County (northeast of Raleigh) have access to three YMCAs just across the county line in three different directions. Watauga County’s lack of an indoor recreation center makes us an anomaly compared to other counties our same size – we need to fix that!
How would a community recreation center benefit Watauga County?
First, it would enrich the lives of the citizens in our community. Particularly given our local weather issues, an indoor recreation center would give people across the age spectrum exercise opportunities year round. Access to yearly recreational opportunities would also allow our Recreation Department to increase its programming for local children including summer camps and snow day alternatives. This will have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of our citizens. In addition, it will give people in the county an important gathering spot to strengthen the social bonds that make our community vibrant and strong. Think about all the interactions that happen, for example, at the softball fields when the weather is nice. An indoor facility would allow that to happen year round.
Second, it would strengthen the economy of our county. A community recreation center would help our county retain and attract small businesses. Studies have shown that small businesses have identified quality of life as the most important factor in their location decisions and the number one quality of life issue is recreation (specifically, in order, national/state parks, local parks, community recreation centers). A community recreation center should be a vital component of any future economic development plans. In addition, an indoor facility has the potential to generate significant economic activity from youth sports events. Youth sports tourism was a $7 billion industry in 2013 (for example, Kingsport, TN generated almost $10 million in economic activity from youth sports events in 2013). An indoor facility would allow our community to be part of this economic engine.
For all these reasons, I urge you to plan for and build a community recreation center for Watauga County.