Stay-cation? Don't count on parks

May 28, 2009 3:23:47 PM PDT
For some, a trip to the beach or any trip at all is out of the question this year. The economy has just made budgets too tight.But now, Raleigh leaders are considering trimming hours at local parks.

"I just think it's the wrong place to cut," offered Raleigh taxpayer Chris Morgan.

Morgan often frequents Shelley Lake. He was dismayed to hear the city may close the lake's boathouse as well as trim hours at all parks.

"People are not traveling as much, probably sticking closer to home and looking for other options, things to do. And they've just taken one away," he said.

But Raleigh's mayor says it could be worse.

"We have millions of dollars in our park budget. We're trimming back just a percentage of it - a very small amount," said Mayor Charles Meeker.

Even conservative council member Philip Isley says the city's proposed new budget is better than past years.

"Someone's finally getting it that we cannot be spending all this money right now at a time when people just can't afford to have it. Unfortunately, we're having to cut a lot of services that people don't want us to cut," he said.

Isley is still not thrilled with some ongoing budget items like the free downtown R Line bus service that has few riders and wireless internet service for downtown only. But, he can't quibble with cuts to services that get little use - like closing the Chavis Park carousel during the week.

Some can, however, and have. And, Raleigh's mayor understands perception may trump reality in a recession.

"We're not like some cities that are closing parks or laying off a part of their police force. So it really is perception but those perceptions are important because to politicians those are reality," he said.

Back at Shelley Lake, Morgan conceded city leaders are between a rock and a hard place.

"You can't please everybody, as they say. Being a business owner I know that too," he said.


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