‘Sportsplex’ conversion should not wait

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To the editor:

Money Magazine just ranked Suffolk in the top 10 Best Places to Live report in the “job growth” category. “Quality of life is a big selling point here…” the article states.

Suffolk was also ranked in the America’s 100 Best Small Cities in 2010. There are signs on all major roads entering the city touting Suffolk’s inclusion on the list. One of the graded categories was arts and leisure, based on green space and activities in the city.

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We need to open up more city owned property for local citizens and citizens considering moving to Suffolk. The city will be more attractive if we have healthy outdoor activities to take part in. The Sleepy Hole Park canoe/kayak launch observation/fishing pier is a good start.

Public parks, bike trails, and public access to our waterways is an important factor in attracting people to locate in Suffolk. More revenue for the city will come from new businesses that support these activities from both local citizens and tourists.

But one of America’s top 100 Small Cities cannot live up to its ranking with a philosophy like the one that governs the city’s “Sportsplex” site near the Nansemond River, which is fenced off to the public pending improvements that are not included in the city’s capital improvement plan until 2017-2021.

Improvements could be done incrementally, instead of waiting several years to start. This land is valuable and was acquired with the understanding it would be used as a park and not fenced in and used for storage of vehicles and materials. A small canoe/kayak launch with parking would be an easy, low-cost start for the project and probably could be started with matching grant money.

The City Council should move up the date for improving this land for Suffolk citizens and let the citizens have a say in how it will be utilized.

Organized sports are just some of the healthy activities that could take place on this land. It is also large enough for beautiful bike trails, public water access sites, viewing activities in the Nansemond Wildlife Refuge and many more possibilities.

The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance would like to work with the city to help develop ideas for this land, which is such great treasure on the historic Nansemond River.

John Wass
Nansemond River Preservation Alliance