New Bern Parks and Recreation will host a Community Workshop at the Omega Center, 800 Cedar St.,  at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. 

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss location options for the new Stanley White Recreation Center. This meeting is required by FEMA, which has funds available for the center as the result of damage it sustained from Hurricane Florence in September 2018. 

The city’s consultant, CPL and FEMA will make a presentation. There will be a Public Comment/Question and Answer session after the presentation.

Previous New Bern Post coverage about Stanley White Recreation Center here.

The city plans to raze the existing building due to extensive damage from the hurricane.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw had been leading an effort to move the facility from the end of Third Avenue, well inside the boundaries of the Greater Duffyfield section of New Bern, to an area bounded by Neuse Boulevard on the south and Elm Street on the north, and Gaston Boulevard on the west and Third Avenue on the east.

Without any input from users of the facility or the surrounding neighborhoods, Mayor Outlaw had the city acquire a number of parcels including Black Swan Flea Market and Ghent Sandwich Shop.

It was a complex deal to assemble, particularly without gathering attention.

Pietro and McDonald Passalaqua bought four parcels totaling about an acre in April 2020 for $375,000, then sold it to the city in June for $455,000.

The city bought an adjoining acre in June from Nellie Tisdale and Ferrell Cordes for $40,000.

It was only after the acreage was bought by the city that Outlaw started to explain his vision for a new Stanley White Recreation Center.

Outlaw insists the entrance to the new facility would still be on Third Avenue and just a short walk from the original Stanley White Recreation Center.

Google Maps puts the distance at 4/10 of a mile, and instead of being fully within Duffyfield, the new facility would be on the southwest boundary of Duffyfield, with frontage on Neuse Boulevard.

It would, in essence, go from being a facility serving the predominantly African American Duffyfield area, to a facility serving the entire city.

Some worry that residents of the Greater Duffyfield area would be crowded out of the new facility and be left with nothing. Others say that no single community or demographic should be served by a city facility, and see nothing wrong with Outlaw’s plan.

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