By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
The New Albany Parks Department continues to add programing, as several fall events and classes were announced this week. From preschool activities to classes and gatherings for senior citizens, the department has boosted the number of programs it offers to the community each season this year.
“We’re listening to the community and they’re telling us a lot of the activities they want to do, and we’re incorporating those into our programming,” Parks Recreation Director Kathy Wilkerson said.
The city launched its own department this year after separating from the joint parks system with Floyd County. In August, Mayor Jeff Gahan hired Alicia Meredith as parks director. Her experience includes managing event operations for the University of Mississippi, and this week she began an inventory process that will gauge the condition of the city parks and suggest ways to improve those facilities.
One facility is already being upgraded, as work began on refurbishing the Bud Flynn Center off East Market Street about six weeks ago. New furniture, carpet and paint have been added to the building, and the first floor of the center will serve as the home to the department’s administrative offices. Those offices may eventually be moved to the new multiuse recreational facility off Silver Street once its completed, but Meredith said the revamped Bud Flynn Center will still be an asset to the community.
“Either way the building will be used by the parks department,” she said.
Though not ready to announce any specifics, Meredith said plans are being made to upgrade other parks facilities. The inventory list — which includes suggestions as simple as picking up sticks to larger projects such as resurfacing basketball courts — will help determine which parks are improved first.
“Eventually we’ll prioritize and make decisions on things that we can and can’t do, and things that are most important to the community,” Meredith said.
Though obviously recreational facilities, the Gahan administration has mainly touted the planned aquatic center, multiuse facility and upgrades to Binford Park as redevelopment projects. The city paid more for parks in 2013 than in recent years, and the department is expected to receive about $939,000 for operational expenses in 2014.
City Council President Pat McLaughlin expects that since a director has been hired, more capital projects will be announced and completed.
“I’m confident that we have excellent people in place with the parks board, and with the new director and of course [Wilkerson], who is such an asset to the community,” he said. “I’m optimistic that we’re really going to have some grand things.”
Gahan said Thursday that the parks board and staff are enthusiastic and community minded, and that he’s pleased with the results of the city department so far.
“The programming has expanded, and there’s a plan to take these activities further into the community,” Gahan said. “I think everybody will see more and more opportunity to participate in the parks.”
• The Rainbow Puppets will perform “The Little Red Hen” during four free shows in October. Dates and locations include Oct. 14 at the Riverside Recreation Center, Oct. 15 at the Beechwood Recreation Center at Griffin Center and Oct. 17 at Parkview Recreation Center. All of these performances are funded in part by the New Albany Redevelopment Commission, and each show will begin at 4:30 p.m.
• The Mom and Me playtime events are available to parents on Wednesday’s in October from 11 a.m. to noon. A parent or grandparent can bring children to the Griffin Center gym for self-guided indoor fun. Balls and age appropriate equipment will be provided in the spacious gym setting. Pre-registration is required. Call Griffin Center 812-948-5361 the day before to register.
• Community recreation sites are open this fall Monday through Thursday after school for youth ages 5 to 12 years old. Programming includes arts and crafts, enrichment life skills training, sports and fitness classes. The program is free from 3:30 to 6 p.m. On-site registration forms must be completed by a parent or guardian. Centers are located at Beechwood Center, 210 Kelly Drive; Griffin Center, 1140 Griffin St.; Parkview Center, 300 Erni Ave.; and Riverside Center, 55 Riverside Drive.
• Gymnastics instruction including basic tumbling, balance beam skills and coordination activities will be taught in multilevel classes. Sessions extend 4 weeks beginning on Oct. 7 or Oct. 8. The cost will be $30 cash or check only (no debit cards accepted) for the four-week session. To register, come to the Griffin Center 1140 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
• Golf adventures for youth ages 7 to 16 is affordable and designed to generate interest in the sport. This class teaches beginning junior golfers the basics of the game. Safety, grip, aim, stance, posture, rules, short game, putting, and long shots are covered. No clubs required. We supply necessary golf equipment and top notch instruction for $32. The dates are Oct. 8, 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 5 at the Cherry Valley Golf Course. The time will be 5 to 6 p.m., and registration will be taken at the Griffin Center only until Oct. 4.
• Special Olympic Bowling plus social activities hosted by the city parks and Recreation Special Friends Club begins next month. New Albany parks provides people with disabilities equal access to community based leisure and cultural activities. For a complete schedule of events, contact the recreation office at 812-948-5361.
• Zumba classes for adults are offered every Thursday year round for a cost of $2 at the Griffin Center. This high-energy, calorie burning dance and fitness class offers real results packed with specially choreographed routines and the latest music. Taught by a certified instructor, the goal is to increase focus and self-confidence, boost metabolism and improve coordination. No preregistration is required. Just join the class any Thursday night beginning promptly at 5:15 p.m.
• Yoga can energize and rejuvenate your body and mind. Classes meet Oct. 22 through Nov. 12 for four weeks at the Griffin Center. In this class, adult participants will reduce stress through simple stretching and proper breathing. Wear loose clothing. Exercise mats will be provided. Class fees are $10 for the four weeks with preregistration required. Call the Griffin Center for additional information.
• The Senior Citizen Lunch Bunch meets each month for a lunch outing with a dose of laughter. The group leaves from the Griffin Center, and events planned include the St. James Art Fair on Oct. 4 and a trip to the W.W. Cousins Diner in November. Call 812-948-5361 to sign up. Seating is limited.
• A free opportunity to jump-start fitness efforts is available for adults beginning this week. Participants can learn to embrace a healthy lifestyle by visiting the Griffin Center fitness room. The workout space allows individuals to exercise at their own pace at the following times: From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays.
• A free, introductory disc golf clinic is scheduled for resident’s ages 8 to 88. A portable course will be set up at Griffin Park for this special event. It will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 19. Adam Embrey, an expert disc golf athlete, will provide instruction plus host a question and answer session. Call 812-948-5361 to pre-register your entire family.