Upside Down…Let’s join together to right this!

Having just returned from a Thanksgiving visit with family at a small, beach town in North Carolina; some of the things witnessed there have set me to thinking more ‘right-side up!

On Friday after Thanksgiving, the weather changed; a cool, wet front had rapidly moved through.  No more fishing, pool, beach or boating – no visiting the skate park! This change subsequently caused four adults to confront head-on, four, active, healthy children between the ages of 7 and 12!  It became a more than YIKES moment!  The feast leftovers had been inhaled, Scrabble, Candyland and other board (or should that be spelled ‘bored’?) games had been quickly exhausted and although WII and accompanying electronic gadgets littered the floor, it was apparent that some form of physical diversion, namely exercise, was needed – quickly!  Not far from panic, my son remembered the Town’s sponsored Rec Center. Then, a quick call to Grammy and Mike (who had wisely retreated to a nearby condo), “Meet us behind the old Season’s Restaurant in 15 minutes.”  Done!

In short order, from various directions, we all pulled into a sizable, already partially filled, parking lot.   The Carolina Beach Recreation Center building looked very similar in size and appearance to Berlin’s own Tyson Plant on Rt. 346.  Upon entering, we were greeted by a pleasant man behind a counter to the right.  Beyond him one could see a vast office/storage area containing cubbyholes filled with ‘stuff’ to borrow…related to every type of indoor sports activity!  Our small ‘team’ had brought their own ‘stuff’, and so after signing in, we quickly moved into a huge room  – a double/quadruple basketball court… anyway it had six baskets!  The floor was not wood but some sort of waffled tile and there were pull-down bleachers all around.  The young boys rapidly found their ‘goal basket’ and the girls went off in search of something more interesting.   For more than three hours, the kids moved from basketball court to the ping-pong /foosball game room, on to the weights/exercise facilities, past the video game room and to the racquetball court where they had the most fun taking turns against the ‘old’ folks – Mike finally crying, ‘Senior Abuse’!   During our indoor journey we saw many rooms, even a second floor where an area had been fitted out for dance lessons.  Classrooms and meeting rooms were everywhere…lists and flyers announcing current and upcoming community oriented activities posted on bulletin boards throughout.  Have I mentioned that on this Black Friday the center was filled with people – young and old?  The annual cost for a resident family…$80.00!!! Not much when you figure the benefit.

Later, during Saturday’s long drive home I couldn’t shake the thought that something like this indoor recreation facility is sorely needed in Berlin!  We cite the need for outdoor parks filled with trees and other environmentally correct, native flora – we spend time and money to beautify our Town’s landscape.

I think we need to do more to improve our ‘peoples-scape’ – to fill the real need for healthy, communal, indoor activities consisting of active, indoor recreation and offering ongoing adult education.  At least equal focus on ‘do’ and ‘look’!

If there’s an underlying point to this story it’s that instead of increasing Berlin’s Police presence to deter criminal activity it might be time to do some ‘right-side’ thinking – by offering attractive, guided, yet ‘fun’ and safe activities for all ages in order to possibly effect the same result?  It’s been done before!

Our Town has suitable vacant land – we even have land with suitable structures – we have the need – now we need a plan… and the money…perhaps a joint venture with Worcester County?

If you’d like to see what one small town (very similar to Berlin) can do…dare to take a look at this page (click on the link below).  Scroll down to see all that’s offered!  There’s even a copy of the Master Parks Plan – Final Draft, showing how another small town went from discerning the need, through execution and on to fulfillment in a few short years.

Carolina Beach Recreation Center – http://www.carolinabeach.org/site_new/pages/parks_rec.html

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