“It has good bone structure,” says Brookhaven’s new Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Kinsey as he walked through the recreation center at Lynwood Park.
The recreation center, once a school, is undergoing preparations to open for city-sponsored recreational activities. The renovations should be completed by Sept. 8.
“We’re making the lunchroom into a big meeting room,” he said, which will be able to host events like birthday parties and community gatherings while seating more than 100 people. “This will be a fitness and exercise room,” said Kinsey as he continued to walk the halls of the center.
Pointing to what must have been the school’s library, he said recreation staff members were packing up old books to donate to a local Rotary Club, which will use the books to stock little outdoor libraries.
Kinsey is replacing Ray Holloway, who had only started as parks director in January but left recently for personal reasons.
Kinsey arrived at Brookhaven’s Parks and Recreation Department six weeks ago. Along with park department and other city staff, he has prepared an eight-page glossy brochure heralding Brookhaven’s first city-sponsored parks activities and leagues. Those activities include basketball, gymnastics, fitness classes and art activities for both children and adults.
“It’s good that we have programs, because they’ll generate revenue … as we have more programs, more money will come in,” Kinsey said. “Gym classes and basketball leagues pay for themselves and make you money.” That money, he said, helps pay for more passive parks, like walking trails, that have to be maintained.
“We’ve got a lot to do in two weeks,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot more to do in the next two years.”
Once renovations are done, the center will house a dance studio and arts room, and will be home to a basketball league that can play in the school’s old gym. Kinsey said while he doesn’t know if the gym’s hardwoods are the original flooring, they had to have been there since at least the 1970s.
“The wood is softer because it’s been here a long time,” Kinsey said. “The players would rather have this. It’s a good leaping floor, better on your shins. It’s kind of like coming off a springboard.”
The city is in the process of developing a long-term master plan for its parks. City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan on Sept. 9. While some elements of that plan may have citizens concerned, Kinsey advised thinking of it as a roadmap, not a definitive outline.
“It’s a roadmap for the future,” he said. It doesn’t’ mean you’re going to do everything in it. It gives you ideas and ways to move forward.”
Once the city has money to move forward with parks improvements, Kinsey said public meetings will be held to determine what citizens and the various parks groups around town want. “Then we’ll come up with what the real plan is going to be. All these groups – they pretty much know what they want. They got great recommendations for each
Kinsey is new to working for a new city. But having just retired from Forsyth County’s Parks and Recreation department after 30 years of service, he was in Forsyth when its parks department experienced a boom in growth.
“When I started in Forsyth 30 years ago we had two employees and four ball fields; now there’re 60-something ball fields.”
He urged citizens who want immediate improvements to the parks to have patience. He said safety issues would be addressed first, then cleaning, and then “we’ll try to get to the new stuff.”
“I like a challenge,” he said. “It’s a good challenge.”