City officials have been pleased with the addition of the skate park, which was thought to be an asset due to the number of skateboarders around town.
An extra lot beside it could see further development.
Proper upkeep of the old facilities is also a priority. Nets have been replaced at the city’s tennis courts, for example, and the Nathan Dean playground had boards replaced due to vandalism.
More than 72 boards had to be replaced on March 3 due to vandalism. It is believed that kids possibly kicked the boards out so they didn’t have to walk around to the exit.
There has been other vandalism to city recreational facilities as well.
“We have people coming from a lot of places around Rockmart like Cedartown and Dallas so it’s hard to pinpoint who’s doing it,” said head of the recreation department, Jeff Hulsey. “It seems like every year we’re replacing something that’s been tore up or broken in.”
Little acts of vandalism like this not only uses money that the city gets from grants and so on, but it also halts further development like new fields that are needed. The concession stands at the football fields have been targeted and the city had to replace the steel doors, which cost about $500 to $600 each.
“Without all the facilities we’d be in trouble,” Hulsey said. “We’re tight on green space to practice as is. The little league has 430 kids and the girl’s softball has an excess of 200. That’s not counting all the other things going on.”
Further development like more fields being built have been discussed with the city council. One day, Hulsey said, he hopes the city can remove the adult fields from the Nathan Dean Park and put them into another area. That space would then provide room for more baseball and softball fields for children.
“We’re blessed with and take pride in our facilities but with the vandalism it’ll be hard to buy more land and upgrade when we’re having to always upkeep them,” Hulsey said. “Broken swings and things like that will cost anywhere from $80 to $90 minimum, and it’s something the city of Rockmart could just not have to deal with.”
Newer sports bring crowds
Each year the recrecation program sports have shown growth, both in the older ones like football, baseball and basketball, and also newer additions such as soccer and the Adventure League, which has joined with the little league and will be playing on upcoming Saturdays.
The sports that really bring in the most kids are little league baseball and the relatively new soccer program. The soccer program has only been around for three years and has already grown to over 200 kids.
“Soccer has grown a lot because it’s a newly introduced sport,” Hulsey said. “Plus it lets all the kids play, where as with baseball there’s only nine kids playing at a time.
“In soccer you got more kids can play and even if you don’t have the talent or ability level, you’re going to get a chance to kick the ball so it’s really fun for all the kids rather than just a few,” he said. “Everyone feels more involved and there’s less competition.”
Also some camps are offered during the summer. A soccer camp for ages 5-12 is offered in early June. A basketball camp follows a couple of weeks later. Both are three-day camps.
The recreation department depends on grants and a share of the city’s budget. However, such needs as fire protection and police are higher priorities in the city’s budget.
The Ray Beck/Doc Ayers Celebrity Golf Tournament is an important source of additional funding. The Rockmart recreation program receives a share of the funds, which are distributed each February from the previous year’s tournament.
The Rockmart recreation department also participates in the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA). It lets the recreation sports teams travel outside of Rockmart for the district tournaments. The GRPA is also tied in with all the cities across the state of Georgia.