Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Selma Times-Journal
City and state leaders were on hand for the rededication of the Dinkins Recreation Center Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Congressman Artur Davis, Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr., Ward 8 representative Jannie Venter and several other officials as well as citizens were on hand for the ceremony.
The most noticeable group of people in attendance was the large number of youths that live in Ward 8. All the speakers made it clear that the efforts to renovate the center – and centers all over the city – are done with young people in mind.
“This is one of the things the mayor and I have talked about,” said Davis. “In all the things that are being done for the city, in all the haste and the progress that is being made, we have to do the little things. We have to find things for the kids and the people to do. This is the other part of the Hyundai strategy.”
“We want to strengthen and build the neighborhoods.”
The Dinkins Center renovation is one of five projects the Parks and Recreation Department has taken on since last year, said department director Elton Reece.
Plans for the center include repainting the main building and installing bathrooms, resurfacing the pool and the basketball court has already been resurfaced.
Councilwoman Venter said she had a vision that the park would be a place that the surrounding community would be proud to hail as its own.
“I’m hoping that (beyond the basketball courts) we can build a park where kids can play and people can hold family reunions,” Venter said. “People have been complaining about kids playing ball in the street, so the mayor and the city council decided to do something about it. There are actually plans to add basketball courts in all the wards.
“I want to do everything I can to help the community.”
The center’s value may ultimately go beyond just giving kids a place to play ball or swim.
If their time leisure time is occupied, it leaves little room for negative activity.
“This is a far more effective way of fighting crime,” Davis said. “Creating things like this is better than hiring 100 police officers. If we deal with problems on the front end, we won’t have to deal with them on the back end.”
Since this is a community park, there was also a call for heavy community involvement.
According to Perkins, the only way the park can be made better in the future is if the improvements made now are kept up.
“If we get money in the future and the stuff now is torn up, we have to use that money to fix what was already there,” Perkins said. “It’s like riding a dirty car to the car wash. When it gets clean, it rides better. You don’t have to be rich to take care of what you’ve got.”
When the project is finished, there should be plenty for both the young and old in the community to do.
“If you don’t find something to do, you don’t want to find something to do,” Reece said.
Former councilman James Durry said the rededication of the center taps directly into the needs of the people in the community.
“Kids in all areas need a place to go to engage in some type of clean fun,” Durry said. “I know it’s important to the young folks because I’ve got a goal in my yard, and there are always guys who come in to play. It’s good to have this in the community so kids in the area can enjoy themselves.”