The cafeteria was part of the community center for the White Plains Ruritan Club for years, but last week it was torn down. With all of the sporting events that take place on the property, the bigger need was for additional parking.
“Come out there in May or June when you’ve got coach pitch, Little League, cheerleading, and you’ve got Little League teams practicing ... you’d see why we needed more parking,” said Rusty York, one of the directors of the White Plains Ruritans.
The Ruritans have been leasing the property from the county for years, and the land serves as the home for the sporting events sponsored by the White Plains Youth Association. Recently the Ruritans asked the county to demolish the building to make room for parking for the nearby recreational fields and gymnasium.
“It was the county’s decision, and the county saw that we needed more parking space,” York explained.
Surry County Commissioner Jimmy Miller said of the parking situation, “It just wasn’t enough.”
Mike Hawks, president of the youth association, said, “We need a lot of parking space out there.”
He said that people frequently have to park in the grass near the complex due to the limited parking space.
For more than 20 years the association has sponsored a variety of sports at the White Plains location. It now offers youth basketball, baseball, coach pitch, tee-ball, football, cheerleading, and countywide volleyball.
York estimated that there are 120 children in Little League baseball, 150 in basketball, 75 in football, and 30 to 40 in cheerleading.
“Our community and our facility — we needed more parking space,” said York.
In addition to the need for parking, York said the building was old and expensive to heat and cool. He said, “It was so outdated, we couldn’t afford to keep it up.”
The former building served many different purposes over its lifetime. It housed a community cannery originally, and York said he can remember his parents taking produce there when he was a child. Mike Branch, another director for the Ruritans, said it had also been an agriculture building and space for the local fire department.
The now vacant lot will be paved when weather permits. Commissioner Craig Hunter said in a recent meeting that it would probably be paved in the spring. Gravel will most likely fill the space in the mean time.
The parking effort is not the only renovation that has taken place at White Plains recently. In the past few years the fields have received new lights, and York said the Ruritans recently were able to put in new cement steps to the lower field with a matching grant from the county.
Commissioner Miller said, “The programs we have with kids have gotten bigger and bigger.”
In October the county commissioners approved a low bid to replace the gym floor at White Plains. Three weeks ago the floor was completed, in time for basketball season.
“It looks really nice,” said York.
Contact Meghann Evans at email@example.com or 719-1952.