HUNTERSVILLE – Town commissioners changed parks and recreation rules June 16 to allow more Huntersville children an opportunity to play sports at fields and facilities.
Michael Jaycocks, director of parks and recreation, wanted to change the town’s co-sponsorship policy to benefit all Huntersville kids interested in playing recreational sports.
Co-sponsorships offer the town some relief in terms of parks and recreation expenses. While parks and recreation provides the fields and facilities, outside organizations or sponsors, such as Strikers soccer or North Mecklenburg Soccer, run the programs. This keeps costs low for the town and its residents.
The updated co-sponsorship policy considers field and facility time based on the number of Huntersville children in a single co-sponsor group.
In the past, a co-sponsor had to consist of at least 50 percent Huntersville children – but under this system, Huntersville kids would have no field time because a group might have hundreds of kids from other cities and towns signed up to play for the team.
“Over 5,000 kids use our park and recreation fields,” Joycocks said. “As groups have expanded, you won’t see them with 50 percent Huntersville kids.”
As Huntersville continues to grow, Jaycocks anticipates an addition of three co-sponsors into the department depending on the availability of facilities.
According to the co-sponsorship guidelines, a space to play is not always a guarantee. Parks and recreation staff would need to find and allocate facility space for the co-sponsor. If field space is limited, only two co-sponsors per sport can become a co-sponsor program.
On a 3-3 vote, Mayor Jill Swain broke the tie by voting for changes out of her desire to include more Huntersville kids in recreational programs.
Commissioners Jeff Neely, Sarah McAulay and Ron Julian were also in favor of the changes to the co-sponsorship policy, whereas commissioners Rob Kidwell, Melinda Bales and Danny Phillips were against the change.
Julian says the new policy is a fair way to serve every Huntersville child.
“To vote no against the co-sponsorship policy change is voting ‘no’ against the quality of life and supporting our kids through recreation and co-sponsors,” Julian said. “I do believe in this.”
Julian says if the town does away with the co-sponsorship program, the town would be forced to hire a tremendous amount of parks and recreation staff to provide the same services as other sports organizations, which he says will increase taxes significantly.
“We are providing a high experience for our children at a low cost,” Julian said. “They can run programs, and it’s worked for years.”
Leaders consider potential road connection
Bowman Development Group requested town commissioners remove deed restrictions from the old subdivision at Berkley Avenue, Newhaven Drive and Star Court – now known as Valencia at Vermillion Subdivision.
The approved subdivision of Valencia is located at the eastern part of the town near Holbrooks Road and is still in the early stages of developing. Woods surround several of the empty lots at Berkley Avenue.
The old subdivision has tight deed restrictions that could prevent road connection to help traffic flow.
Nate Bowman is interested in connecting two proposed roads at the end of Berkley Avenue in the Valencia neighborhood on a specific area of land that would be in Huntersville’s best interest.
“We want connectivity into the neighborhood,” Bowman said. “We are simply connecting roads.”
Bowman asked Town Attorney Bob Blythe what the town is legally able to do, but Blythe said he would first need to understand legal precedents before anything can move forward.
The original subdivision was developed many years ago with multiple lot owners and a rule prohibiting road connectivity through the neighborhood.
Commissioner Ron Julian said it would take be a costly and tedious task to receive approval from the different owners of the property to sign off on the potential road connectivity.
Commissioners Sarah McAulay and Jeff Neely said the request is a legal matter that should be addressed in closed session and researched further.
“We have not viewed the site, and we do not have the documentation,” McAulay said.