Cuts expected to Chesterfield parks and recreation

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) –   Dozens of outdoor programs in Chesterfield County are expected to get the ax.

The reason: More than a $1 million in budget cuts to parks and recreation.

During an advisory meeting tonight, sports leagues are going to get the bad news.

The next few months are going to be anything but a walk in the park.  The Chesterfield Parks and Recreation Department is forced to eliminate jobs and programs.

Pedro Chicas is pumped. In just a few weeks, he'll be kicking the ball around.

"When it comes to soccer we love it.  We are very passionate about it," he said.

He heads up the American International Soccer League. More than 400 players count on Chesterfield County to maintain the fields.  But with $1-6 million in budget cuts, adult leagues will now have to pick up the cost.

"When the fields aren't properly maintained, then it becomes a safety issue," said Allen Harlow.

Harlow leads senior softball.  Most of his players are retired, on a fixed income and may not be able to pay to play.

"So anything that impacts the county, affects us also," he said.

Along with cuts to programs, more than 30 full- and part-time jobs would be eliminated.

"One of the things that we're really looking to do is to try to keep facilities open as much as we can," said Mike Golden of Chesterfield Parks and Recreation.

That means Eva Smith would still enjoy her daily run through Rockwood Park.

"But the Rockwood Nature Center at Rockwood Park may or may not be able to stay open," Golden said.

"To take away our recreation, it's an integral part of our lives, these have important needs too," Smith said.

The cuts aren't for lack of interest. Rockwood Nature Center sees more than 20,000 people each year. More than 10,000 adults play in a league.

"If I count every time somebody comes into a park, that's 4 million visitors in a year," Golden said.

"I've lived in 12 states and I've never seen anything like they have here," said Elli Morris.

Morris is now preparing to fight to keep action on the fields and programs on the board.

Parks and rec won't know its fate until the county finalizes the budget in April

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