Berkeley District Supervisor Ruth Larson got her first turn at holding a county budget town hall forum Tuesday night, fielding questions from a sparse audience at Jamestown High School. Larson just began her first term on the Board of Supervisors this January, and most recently served on the School Board.
Like the preceding budget forums this year, not many people showed up. About 12 people not directly connected to the county government showed up in the auditorium.
County staff made presentations on the $193 million budget proposal under consideration by the board, and Larson took questions on the dominant topic of the forums, building an auxiliary gym at Lafayette High School.
Parents, teachers and students at Lafayette have expressed concern about having adequate access to athletic facilities after the demolishing of the James Blair gymnasium, which is used by Lafayette student athletes.
This Friday Williamsburg City Council, the Board of Supervisors and the School Board will host a joint meeting on the school division’s budget proposal.
“I want to wait and see what comes out of the joint meeting on Friday, to get some sense from talking to the School Board and the city, and get a chance to talk about it with my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors,” Larson said. “It shows the importance of why we all need to work together, and make sure we’re doing right size facilities from the start if at all physically possible, so we’re not planning backward, we’re planning forward.”
A question was raised from the audience as to whether students at Lafayette could use the gym at the James City County Recreation Center. County Administrator Bryan Hill said while many schools use the facility, he would need more information before any long-term use was planned.
“I think Mr. Hill has started to talk to (schools’ superintendent) Dr. Constantino about that, but he has asked for a plan,” Larson said.
“I think we all know we are very fortunate to have a rich amount of student athletes in Williamsburg-James City County. A lot of them do travel from their schools to different fields,” she said. “We do realize they are using the Blair gym, and we want to offer them what we can. We do have to take into consideration we’re a growing community and how we can address that in the future.”