Here’s what Conway is doing to keep kids off the street

Conway officials hope to cheaper for kids to spend time in its recreation centers.
Conway officials hope to cheaper for kids to spend time in its recreation centers.

The City of Conway is looking at making it cheaper for kids to spend time in its recreation center.

The city already has a youth program for $2 per day that runs weekdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“The problem is by the time they get out of school, by the time they get up there, we’re having to clear the gym at 5 p.m. for our youth athletics and our Zumbas and everything else,” said Assistant Recreation Director David Williams after a Tuesday council meeting. “City council is wanting us to address making the facility more available to all the youth.”

For a day of general access, Conway charges $10 for a non-member guest pass and $7 for a member’s guest — even for youth, Williams said.

City Administrator Adam Emrick said the city sold 3,491 $7 passes and 2,500 $10 passes last year, both raising about $25,000 in revenue that could be lost if fees were reduced for youth.

“There will be some budget offsets, but that’s what this process is all about,” Emrick said.

In Myrtle Beach’s Pepper Geddings Recreation Center, a walk-in pass for youth is $1.

“To me, it’s a travesty that we don’t take care of our kids any better than we’re doing,” said councilor Ashley Smith.

Council members debated free and reduced memberships and grade-based membership for kids during the council workshop Tuesday.

“I think we’re all on board and I say we give it back to staff to come up with something to help kids out,” said councilor William Goldfinch.

Williams said council will look at staff proposals to find a solution.

“They’re looking at proposals from us on how to set it up to make it easier for our staff to maintain but also make it affordable for the kids,” he said.

Recreation advisory board member Ronald Phillips pitched an idea of $5 per month memberships for kids who are interested in playing basketball or swimming.

“There’s a lot of mentors or coaches who would even just give a kid a $5 bill for him to play that month,” he said. “Keeps him out of trouble, he works on his skills, he gets to be with other children his own age and have some fun.

“Idle mind is a devil’s workshop,” he said. “If you’ve got nothing to do, something will happen bad to you.”

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian