HAMLET — City Manager Jonathan Blanton has begun opening bids to repave the basketball court in South Hamlet Park, one of very few items to survive the budgeting process during a tight year for the city.
“I hope to move forward with this within the next few weeks,” Blanton said Tuesday, a day after opening an initial bid. “It’ll be a nice asset to the park, with the new playground equipment we have out there.”
Currently cracks stretch across the asphalt on the ball court, and grass grows in the cracks, creating an uneven — and, sometimes, dangerous — surface. Blanton said it had been more than 25 years since the city improved the courts.
Blanton said he met with a contractor and the public works director Thursday to determine approximate costs for the project. He said he hoped work on the basketball court would begin within four to six weeks.
Discussion over repaving the court began during the City Council’s budget-planning sessions in May and June. The repaving ultimately was one of a handful of larger items not slashed from the proposed 2018-19 budget.
The council set aside $60,000 for repaving, favoring the project over adding a drug-enforcement officer to the Police Department and buying cameras to keep watch over public events.
“Sixty thousand dollars should be more than enough,” Blanton said. Anything left over after the repaving “could be used to tend to some other areas in the park,” which sits close to a Head Start preschool and a large public-housing complex.
Council member Eddie Martin championed both the addition earlier this year of updated playground equipment and repaving the courts at South Hamlet Park, hoping that both moves would encourage young people to play and stay off the streets.
Hamlet Parks and Recreation Director Maurice McLaurin said he had seen kids shooting baskets while he managed soccer games on neighboring fields.
“Once it gets done, it’ll be great,” he said of the improvements. “A lot of people are excited, from who I’ve talked to from being out there.”
McLaurin said he would like to sit down with volunteers and other parks and rec employees to brainstorm activities the city could add once the courts were finished.
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]