For the last six years, the Greene County Department of Recreation has offered yearly grants for municipalities to update or create areas of recreation for youth in the county.
In a document explaining the grant and the criteria for attaining one, officials in the department stated they believe the recreational areas improved by this grant will provide more incentive for youth to spend time outside. While in the areas, youth will hopefully participate in activities that will take them away from bad influences within the community and “hopefully improve their chances of selecting a path that will be of the most benefit to them,” said the department in the document.
The deadline for the applications is March 1, and the grant request must not be more than $3,000. To receive the grant, municipalities must plan to use the money to complete their project within a year. Municipalities must submit photos of their projects as proof and return unused money. To enforce this, the funds are received as a reimbursement.
In addition, municipalities must hold the goal of using the project to contribute to and impact youth in the area and explain how it will potentially do this.
“The best interest of the youth of Greene County must be the primary concern of the potential recreational grant recipient,” the Department of Recreation said in their docuement.
Scott Kelley, chief financial officer for the Greene County Board of Commissioners, said the budget set aside for the grant each year is $21,000 in total, allowing six or seven of these grants to be awarded per year, provided the director of recreation or the commissioners approve the amounts.
Although newly elected Chairman of the Greene County Board of Commissioners Mike Belding has made it a goal to find more ways to save money, he stated he does not believe the Recreational Development Grant is in jeopardy in the near future.
“[Recreational activities] build family relationships. It develops the children’s physical fitness and the opportunity to be outdoors,” Belding said. “I think we will continue to do this opportunity and any opportunity we get to keep families outdoors with each other and build those family influences. It’s important and a positive influence on several areas that we’re concerned about.”
One of those areas Belding believes will be influenced positively by the upkeep of the recreational parks and structures is the opioid epidemic, as Belding said research shows that quality of life and family time are both factors involved in the decisions of youth.
Kelley said he often visits the parks in Waynesburg with his girlfriend and her children, and he believes in making sure those areas are kept up for those types of recreational activities.
“I do believe they enhance the area. We are talking about where the kids play, and I think that’s important,” Kelley said. “It’s a place for the kids to get out and play, and I think that enhances the lifestyle of the residents in the county.”