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Councilmen discuss recreation

First Posted: 9:17 am - June 25th, 2015 Updated: 9:17 am - June 25th, 2015.

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Fairfield County Councilman Marion Robinson, left, and Council Vice Chairman Kamau Marcharia discuss recreation with the community during a community meeting held Saturday.

GREENBRIER — Recreation was the primary topic of conversation at Saturday’s community meeting organized by the representatives from Fairfield County District 4 and District 5.

Mike Fanning, executive director for Olde English Consortium, facilitated the meeting.

“I’m here to get some information from the community, share some information with the community,” said Kamau Marcharia, who is vice chairman of the County Council and represents District 4.

Marcharia said community participation in local government is important. This sentiment was shared by Marion Robinson, who represents District 5.

The location and features of District 4’s proposed recreation center has been determined, and Marcharia said the next step will be the bidding process.

“We are still looking at what we’re going to do with recreation,” Robinson said.

District 3, District 4 and District 5 are contiguous. Councilman Walter Larry Stewart of District 3 was invited but did not attend the meeting.

While new recreation facilities have been a long-gestating project, the most recent election cycle brought four new members to Fairfield County Council, and the newly elected councilmen are reviewing what plans would be most appropriate for their district.

For example, Robinson said District 5’s recreation plan called for mini parks, but he believes a large, multi-purpose facility would better fit the community’s needs.

“I’m not in favor of mini parks,” Robinson said. “From what I’ve seen, they are sort of a waste of money.”

However, the location for a large community center in District 5 remains undetermined.

“We need to find the right place to have it,” Robinson said.

During the meeting several options were identified including inquiring about acquiring land from a paper company, a former retirement center, the ball field near the Guardian Building and Greenbrier School.

The possibility of Greenbrier School generated the most discussion.

James McGraw and Jackie Workman, who were among the roughly dozen people in attendance, voiced support for this option.

“It’s too prime a piece of property to let go,” McGraw said.

Robinson said he understood the facility comes with a $1 million price tag, which exceeds the recreation center’s $500,000 budget. However, if possible, Robinson said he feels the community would be well served by the property.

“If I could, I would, I just need the extra $500,000,” Robinson said. “That building has everything.”

Robinson added the cost of any of the proposed centers will not be known until the projects are bid out.

“Those estimates are guesstimates,” Robinson said.

In addition to a regional tie, the recreation centers are tied together as part of a package, which will be bid out. The centers are packaged in an effort to receive favorable prices.

The proposed recreation centers would be paid for using bond money and be bid together. Marcharia expressed concern that some councilmembers may intentionally delay creating recreation plans in an effort to derail the entire project.

The package also includes a fire station and a split Emergency Medical Services and Fire Station, which cannot be built until recreation plans are set, the bidding process is complete and the job is awarded.

“They’re lumped into the bid process,” Robinson said.

However, Marcharia and Robinson said the bid process should soon begin.

“Something is going to have to happen in the next month or two months,” Robinson said.

Both councilmen concluded the meeting by thanking those in attendance for offering input and opinion regarding recreation.

“I want to thank everyone of you for coming out here today,” Robinson said. “Even though I might be from District 5, I try to represent Fairfield County.”

Marcharia said the meeting provided food for thought and said he would like to see continued community involvement.

“I think we came up with some concepts to work on,” Marcharia said.

A crime watch meeting for the Greenbrier community was announced for July 21 at 6:30 p.m. The crime watch meeting will be held at the Greenbrier Fire Station on Highway 269.

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