Having served in the Petal Parks and Recreation Department for the past 17 years, Josh Young considers recreation a major part of his life – and one of the things he knows best.
In that case, he’s right where he needs to be as the newly-named director of the department, a position which began last month upon the approval of the Petal Board of Aldermen. Young, who takes over for former director Brian Hall, served as assistant director under Hall and former director Tom Hardges Jr.
“Recreation is my life; this is the only thing I’ve known,” Young said. “I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, and I’m the type of person that everything that I want to do for recreation is for the city as a whole. I want to do things for everybody from the kids to the seniors.
“I want to put my hand on something for everybody – not just for baseball, not just for football and not just for sports. I want to do something for the people who want to skateboard, or the kids that want to go have something to do at a playground or a splash pad. I want to help everything with recreation itself and the city.”
To help accomplish that, Young is looking forward to the implementation of the upcoming 3-percent tax increase at Petal restaurants, which was recently approved by voters in a special election. That tax, which is expected to bring in approximately $750,000 in extra revenue to the city each year, will go to the Parks and Recreation Department, which will allow the city to maintain that department at its current level.
City officials are still brainstorming certain projects that can be done with the funds, which may begin to be collected monthly as early as November or December.
“First, it might be a little bit here and there, because the 3 percent doesn’t come in all at once; it comes in a little each month,” Young. “So the money is going to have to build up first, and I’m going to use some of that to work on certain things. I want to take that 3 percent … to maybe help with soccer fields, or a splash pad, or anything that would help the community as a whole.
“Right now, we don’t have anything for … kids in between 3 to 9 years old; there’s nothing really there other than just a playground. The splash pad would be very great for a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old, or a 4-year old. We don’t have a park for a 3-year-old; we don’t have anything for that young age.”
Heading into that goal, in two years Young would like to see the aforementioned splash pad and soccer fields, along with the growth of the sports program. In addition, his hopes include more offerings at the Petal River Park and upgraded restrooms at all the city’s recreational sites.
“Our public restrooms, they’ve been there for multiple years, and I think it’s time to renovate them and make them a whole not nicer,” Young said. “People should be able to go to one of our parks and see nice bathrooms … and I want for all our public restrooms to stay maintained and look nice. In five years, I would like to see recreation double in size and have a lot more stuff, more events going on.
“Like right now, there’s very little going on here in Petal, and you always have to travel. I want Petal to have those, and not just one or two times a year, but something maybe once a month. I would like to do the Movies in the Park together for families who want to come and watch a movie on the weekends. It’s recreation; I want families to be able to come together.”