Last Friday work began at the Franklin Youth Foundation baseball field complex. Surry County Parks and Recreation employees and a local contractor are clearing trees and underbrush in order to make way for additional parking at the site.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners approved additional funding for Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White’s “value engineered” plan to overhaul the site at its July 20 meeting. Surry County Commissioner Jimmy Miller said that commissioners have given White about $91,000 to work with.
“White has enough knowledge to make this happen,” said Miller. “The project is in good hands.”
Miller said that the ball fields at Franklin Youth Foundation play host to more than 100 little league baseball and softball players a year. The largest issue at the venue has been a lack of parking spaces. “No parking has been a terrible disadvantage to family members who visit the park,” commented Miller.
As another part of White’s overhaul plan, the access road into the park will be fixed. Though it won’t be paved, Miller said the road, which is now steep and rough, will be re-graded and gravel will be put in place.
White’s master plan for the project would include eight additional parking lots, two additional little league fields, and a road linking the current ball fields to the additional fields and an existing larger field located to the northeast of the park.
However, commissioners have only approved funding for phase one of White’s improvement plan. Once complete, that phase will provide 92 additional parking spaces, re-do the driveway to the park and manage some kudzu that is growing in the area.
Miller said that he estimates that the clearing of trees and other vegetation will take three to four weeks. After that, public works personnel will begin grading at the site. Miller also said that phase one of the plan is just the beginning to the overhaul. “It looks great, and it’s a start,” said Miller.
According to Miller the Franklin project has been needed for sometime. He and Commissioner Larry Phillips, who also serves the Mount Airy area, have both conveyed their concerns that limited parking at the site is a safety hazard to youngsters at the park. Miller said that once phase one work is complete, he will feel better about safety at the site.
“The Franklin Youth Foundation does a terrific job,” said Miller. “I look forward to it (completion of the park improvements).”
In a related matter, Miller said their is also a plan in the works to put new tables at the picnic pavilion at the Franklin site. The commissioner said that he believes the investment would give the youth foundation a means with which it can raise money and will also provide a further service to the community.
“I’d like to see the tables replaced, so that they (the youth foundation) can rent that pavilion,” said Miller. “It would give them the opportunity to raise some money and would provide a place in the community where folks could have birthday parties and other celebrations.”
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or [email protected]