Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — Fuquay-Varina town leaders want to begin offering recreational youth and intramural sports, which have been run by a volunteer group for the past 22 years.
Town commissioners are expected to vote Monday evening on a recommendation to offer a recreational youth sports program that would include baseball, T-ball, softball, soccer, volleyball, football and cheerleading. The measure would not include teams that play in travel leagues.
Mayor John Byrne said Fuquay-Varina has invested $10 million in its sports fields and facilities – including a community center, 15 parks and 48 athletic fields – over the past 10 years and that the town is now substantially equipped to provide a sports program.
It also has invested in a parks and recreation staff that is qualified to operate youth leagues.
But the Fuquay-Varina Athletic Association, which has administered recreational and sports leagues for the town since 1989, says it doesn't understand why the town would decide to take over a significant portion of the responsibilities associated with operating a youth sports program.
It says the town's move is unwanted and unneeded.
FVAA President Kurt Underhill said the nonprofit has made more than $150,000 in improvements to the facilities since then.
Parents are also concerned that a town sports program might limit participation.
Cristal Nelson's two boys have grown up playing soccer through the FVAA.
If town leagues play on town fields, she said, "It may become much more difficult for FVAA to gain access to those fields."
She said she sees nothing positive from the town's proposed endeavor.
"I believe the town's proposal to take over would ultimately mean that the program would diminish," Nelson said.
But Byrne said there are no plans to cap the number of participants and that both Fuquay-Varina residents and non-residents would be able to participate in the programs.
He said he believes that the FVAA and town can continue to work together.
"We're not trying to take over their association. That's misinformation," he said. "We'll continue to partner with them, if that's certainly what they want to do. We feel it is."
About 60 percent of participants in FVAA youth sports programs live outside town limits.
"Our sole mission and purpose has been for any child who wants to play a sport to play," said FVAA board member Tracy Tarpey. "We turn no children away."
Tarpey says the FVAA gives out $30,000 a year in scholarships.