May 18, 2018 10:52:53 AM
Starkville's Parks and Recreation department is preparing for a busy summer, with new activities and facility locations available for use.
Interim Director Gerry Logan said one of the biggest new developments for the department this summer is a new joint-use agreement the city of Starkville and Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District approved for some of the recreational facilities at schools.
The agreement, which the school board approved last week and aldermen approved on Tuesday, allows for public use of the Henderson-Ward Stewart playground and multi-use area; the Armstrong Middle School playground and multi-use area; the Sudduth Elementary School playground; and the Overstreet Elementary School playground and park. Beyond, that agreement allows for requests to use school district indoor spaces and athletic facilities to be considered on an individual basis.
"That's a chance for citizens to gain access to those areas," Logan said. "We've got to work on signage and stuff like that so it's known and posted about what those open times are going to be."
As part of the agreement, Logan said the parks department is offering a new half-day sports camp and Henderson-Ward Stewart from June 4-29. The camp runs 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, and costs $5 per day, $20 per week or $50 for the month. Logan said registration is available on site.
"With that, people could, in theory, have their kid at Henderson-Ward Stewart in the morning, and then the pool opens at noon," Logan said. "It's kind of a way that folks have an opportunity to have all-day day care in a way, and it's really, really inexpensive."
Mayor Lynn Spruill said she is proud the city and school district worked out the agreement.
"It's important for us to be efficient in the use of our assets and not to duplicate where we don't have to," she said. "We serve the same kids, the same constituent families, so why not take advantage of those facilities that are already there?
"I think it's wise," she added, "and I'm very grateful that the school system, like Mississippi State University and the county, are working together with us so we can do the best for our residents. When we work together, it makes all the difference in the world in what we can achieve in the near- and far-term."
The parks department will also host a summer feeding program at the Sportsplex beginning in June. Logan said the department won the program through a $35,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association and the Walmart Foundation Healthy Out-of-School Time Meals Program. The program is being conducted through a partnership with the Southern Foundation.
"We're working to get all that implemented," he said. "The next thing is getting all the logistics finalized. We're trying to get some transportation. I actually will meet with the SMART bus system (Friday) to work through the logistics and hopefully an agreement for transportation will be on the June 5 board meeting."
The feeding program, which will run Monday-Friday, will have a kick-off program at 10 a.m. on June 1 at the Starkville Sportsplex. Logan said the program should be available to anyone who wants to participate, and registration isn't expected to be required.
Starkville was one of 10 rural communities in the United States selected to host the program, Logan said.
The parks department, in a partnership with the Starkville Pilot Club, is in the process of adding a new water bucket feature to the splash pad at J.L. King Park. Logan said the feature, which should be installed in the next few weeks, has a bucket that fills with water, and empties out.
Logan said the department is also working on the installation of a new disc golf course at J.L. King Park, but doesn't yet have a finalized timeline for when it will be available for use.
Moncrief Park's swimming pool will open on May 29. The pool has slightly altered hours this year. Monday through Friday, there will be aquarobics/fitness classes beginning at 11 a.m. to noon, with open swim hours from noon to 5:15 p.m. and family swim hours from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., if there are no swim lessons. On Saturdays, open swim hours are set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with family swim from 3-5 p.m. and after 5 p.m. available for pool parties. The pool is closed on Sundays. Logan said the pool costs $3 per person or $5 for two people Monday-Friday, and $5 per person on Saturday. Children under five can get in free.
He said the pool will feature a new free sunscreen station that can dispense up to 4,000 applications of sunscreen.
Spruill said she believes the parks department has options to cater to every taste for the summer.
"We're interested in providing multiple options," Spruill said. "It's always important to give people things to do when they're out for the summer. We've got so many things, from the splash pad, the pool coming online soon, and baseball and softball. I'm very excited about it, and any opportunities we may see moving forward to enhance our sports facilities, because we want to be on the cutting edge to make sure our community is leading, not following."
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