Dougherty County Commission hears update on recreational activities

Jan. 9—ALBANY — From the outdoor blacktop to indoor midnight basketball and other gatherings, the Albany Recreation and Parks Department is taking it to the community.

That was department Director Steven Belk's message to the Dougherty County Commission on Monday, where Belk gave an update on some of the 2022 events held to get more people involved in activities.

"New York City is not the only place they have stars that can bounce and shoot," the director said of the Blacktop Breakout Basketball Tournament series.

The first of the series brought out 1,200 participants and fans, and the series was well-received, Belk said.

The department provides recreation services to residents outside the Albany city limits under a contract with the county. Records kept showed that 86% of participants in the first blacktop basketball event were from Dougherty County, including city residents, and at one of the four tournaments that number was 96%.

"I want you to know your money is being well-spent," Belk said.

Other 2022 events included the Good Life Gathering and Santa's Workshop.

In addition to helping residents keep active, the community events also help keep the community healthier in terms of helping to prevent crime, according to the director. He pointed to statistics showing that giving young people something to do between 7 p.m. and midnight can help lower crime rates.

"I realize the importance for Recreation and Parks to minimize crime in this city," he said. "I'm proud to say there were no issues. That night we know we addressed some of the issues in these neighborhoods. We went out in the neighborhoods and recruited players."

Santa's Workshop, held at the county-owned Robert Cross Park, also was a success, he said.

"We had 5- to 17-year-olds," he said. "They were out there playing. They had a good time. We brought out people who had not visited this multipurpose facility. It's not only for basketball. We're going to use it to educate."