Parks need more money

DAYTON - It doesn't look much like a baseball field, just a chain-link backstop in a field of rocks and sagebrush.

But it's as good as it gets for residents who live near Mark Twain Park.

"It gets very discouraging at times," said Parks and Recreation Board Chairman Ruby McFarland.

McFarland said all existing recreational facilities have been donated, and labor has all been volunteered. Now, the population of central Lyon has outgrown the fields, and residents are looking for away to build more.

"I've been on every park committee for the last 12 years and I have not seen any improvements yet, but I have not given up hope," McFarland said.

Bill Bouman, president of the Silverada Little League, said the two baseball fields and one T-ball field are not enough to support the 27 teams in the league.

"We're all competing for the grass out here and there just isn't enough," Bouman said.

The parks are not only used for baseball, but for football, soccer, and other activities.

Central Lyon County Parks and Recreation presented the problem to the county commissioners last week and were told that parks officials need to decide on a funding plan.

McFarland said the board is considering two options.

The first would be to create an assessment district that would augment the current budget by attaching a flat tax to the existing property tax.

"We have to have the backing of the people in the community," McFarland said. "If they want ball fields, you have to explain to them that they have to pay for them."

The second option is a construction fee that would be levied against new homes during the permit process. The money would be collected to develop the area where the house is to be built.

McFarland said she thinks people moving into the community will want to have the same recreational facilities that they previously had so they will not oppose the tax.

"I think that they're going to be willing to pay for new parks so they're children will have places to play," she said. "I do think we have the support of the community."

Parks officials plan to meet with county commissioners at the end of April to decide the specific amount of the tax.

"In the meantime, we have to get our ducks in a row," said Jannette Hoffert, Central Lyon County Parks and Recreation director. "We have to come up with a game plan."

In order to form an assessment district, commissioners will have to approve it, then put it on the November 2000 ballot. If the commissioners do not approve it, the county will have to circulate a petition to be on the ballot.

The deadline to get on November's ballot is July.

The commissioners would also have to approve the construction fee, but it does not need to go before the voters.

"I'm almost certain the commissioners will approve it," McFarland said. "They know what the need is."

Bouman said that there is barely enough room to get through a season.

"We have enough fields that we can schedule games for the fields for the summer," Bouman said. "But basically, once our season starts, we don't have the luxury to have any time for practice at all."

He said the senior league shares the high school's field.

"That basically means we can't start our team until the high school season is over," he said. "That's a big drawback for our kids."

Hoffert said she hopes the community will support the idea as well.

"If we can create facilities where adults and kids can participate in recreation programs that makes for a healthier community all around," she said. "Hopefully, we can direct them in a more positive way."

McFarland said parks play an important role in youth development.

"When kids have things to do and are occupied, they are less likely to get into trouble."


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