Dover council votes to include church survey in recreation plan

DOVER — The ongoing issue as to what to do at Dover Park and with the site where the Dover Parks and Recreation Building once stood continued to be a discussion amongst council members during last night’s meeting.

Council voted to defer the actions until more information is obtained regarding the matter.

Council members also unanimously voted to include the results of the Social Action Commission’s Task Force of Mount Zion A.M.E. Church survey along with other data to determine residents’ recreational needs for the east part of the city.

During Monday night’s Dover City Council meeting, Councilman Brian Lewis, right, led a moment of silence for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Feb. 13. Councilman Lewis said he was privileged to have had lunch with the justice in his chambers when he received an award from the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society presented by Justice Scalia last year. “I met him several times when I was a police officer in Washington, D.C.,” Councilman Lewis said. “I was given the award because of my work through that. “He was a great down-to-earth individual.” (Submitted/Brian Lewis)

During Monday night’s Dover City Council meeting, Councilman Brian Lewis, right, led a moment of silence for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Feb. 13.
Councilman Lewis said he was privileged to have had lunch with the justice in his chambers when he received an award from the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society presented by Justice Scalia last year.
“I met him several times when I was a police officer in Washington, D.C.,” Councilman Lewis said. “I was given the award because of my work through that.
“He was a great down-to-earth individual.” (Submitted/Brian Lewis)

At the heart of the ongoing recreational debate is Dover Park, located east of U.S. 13 on White Oak Road between U.S. 13 and Del. 1. The old building was at 1210 White Oak Road,

The park’s wooded 28.2 acres also include softball fields, a playground, pavilions, basketball courts, tennis courts, disc golf and more. It once had a recreation center building, constructed in the 1970s and which council voted to demolish in 2014.

Last month during the Parks, Recreation and Community Enhancement Committee members considered a proposed recreation center at Dover Park. At that time, members recommended referring the proposal back to the Mayor Robin Christiansen for more information.

During that meeting Mayor Christiansen reiterated his previous recommendation that $380,000 that had been earmarked for a splash park be used for a community center at Dover Park, projecting that a splash park would be available to the community for only two to two-and-a-half months per year.

The city’s director of planning and community development appears committed to the splash park.
Anne Marie Townshend pointed to recreation-needs assessment residents were asked to complete last year.

The recreational-needs assessment helps the city plan the future of Dover’s parks and recreation programs. Of Dover’s estimated population of 37,540, a total of 506 people responded to the assessment.

The Social Action Commission’s Task Force of Mount Zion A.M.E. Church on Queen Street conducted its own survey of more than 300 residents to see what they would like to see at the former Dover Parks Recreation Building.

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr.

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr.

It was submitted to city council in January 2014.

Those results of the SAC survey weren’t included with the city’s recreational assessment.

“My concern is when I look at the needs survey by the city it doesn’t give examples of the programs and activities that were desired in the SAC needs assessment survey,” Councilman Roy Sudler said.

“It doesn’t specify how many people wanted a splash park, or wanted a baseball or tennis court restored.”

He said there’s no physical data that gives the city a clear-cut picture as to what they’ll be supporting.

The majority of 300 residents who participated in Mount Zion’s Social Action Committee’s survey agreed the old rec center at Dover Park needed to come down, with 246 in favor of its demolition.

Almost as many, 234, wanted it replaced by a new modern building.

“In the SAC survey we found physical data, but I don’t see it here or any of the information,” Councilman Sudler added.

“I think that needs to be included to see what the programs were from all avenues. I think it needs to be included before we start a blueprint and further discussion on what kind of facility we plan to have for the future.”

Council President Timothy Slavin

Council President Timothy Slavin

Council President Timothy Slavin shared the same sentiment.

“I regretfully voted against the Pitts Center,” Mr. Slavin said, referring to the center which opened in 2008 in Schutte Park. That park is in west Dover, on Electric Avenue. “The reason I voted against it is I believe that we built the right center in the wrong place. We’re trying to target at risk youth so they have a safe place to go.

“We built it to where it’s completely inaccessible to the largest population at risk. It’s difficult to ride your bike, or walk out there.”

He said the needs of the residents on the east side of the city have been neglected for a long time.

“It hurts me that we’re not looking at where our at-risk youth population live,” Mr. Slavin said. “I’m kind of concerned about this ready, fire aim approach to this.

“I think that there’s good data that’s out there between our survey and the one done by the social action committee.”

He said the results of all surveys and data should be used moving forward.

“I think the results should be used to make decisions and it shouldn’t be used to support the decisions that haven’t already been made.”

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