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Council wants to improve Little League, softball, Pop Warner facilities
by Gary Kent
May 21, 2010 | 1274 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City Council members expressed a desire to spend grant money and matching funds on baseball and football facilities before spending a great deal of money on a skate park when they met for a public hearing Wednesday evening.

Robert Gignac and Carolyn James of the Gignac and Associates architectural firm presented a draft of the master plan they expect to have ready by the end of this month.

The plan has to be presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by May 31 so the city can apply for grant funds.

Their presentation ended at 6:30 p.m., about a half hour after the meeting started.

The first person to speak during the public hearing was Norris Jackson, president of the Beeville Little League organization.

“We have 574 kids in the program,” Jackson said and he urged the council to consider improving the Little League complex at Veterans Memorial Park.

Jackson said he was concerned about the fact that a new skate park had been given a higher position on the city’s priority list than baseball facilities.

He said the number of young people interested in building a skate park is a fraction of those participating in Little League.

Jackson also urged the council to consider placing the development of Pop Warner football facilities higher on the list.

Bruce Harper, sports editor for the Bee-Picayune, echoed Jackson’s concerns, saying people had been trying to persuade the city to improve those facilities for two years.

“The mayor mentioned earlier the economic development value of Little League and Pop Warner facilities,” Harper said.

He urged the council to consider other sources of grant funds for park improvements. He said the National Football League provides funds for Pop Warner facilities and major league baseball organizations often help fund Little League complex facility improvements.

Harper said the Tony Hawk Foundation provides funds to help build skate parks.

J.D. Aguirre urged the council to consider improvements for adult softball facilities, saying events bring people from out of town to this city often.

Ricardo Muñoz, who heads up Beeville’s Pop Warner organization, asked the council to consider providing restrooms and concession facilities for the Little League and Pop Warner fields.

He and Jackson said that with better facilities, they can host tournaments that would bring business to the city’s restaurants and motels.

Both men said youth sports organizations in other cities are always asking Beeville to host events.

Jody Alaniz, chairman of Beeville’s Economic Improvement Corporation, said the council should consider promoting sports events for the city.

Lisa DelBosque, director of the Bee County Chamber of Commerce, echoed the others, saying she is interested in seeing more people come to Bee County for sporting events.

Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez Jr. told those at the hearing that he intends to push the City Council in the direction that those at the hearing were recommending.

He said the city staff has found almost $300,000 in unallocated funds that could be channeled toward park improvements. He would like to see the council provide $250,000 of that money for park projects and then ask Alaniz’s EIC for another $200,000 in 4-B sales tax funds. Then, Martinez suggested asking the community to raise another $50,000 with donations and fund-raising activities.

“That would give us $500,000 in matching funds to show the TPWD that we’re willing to raise our share,” Martinez said. Then, when the city asks the state agency for a $500,000 grant he believes Beeville would stand a better chance of being awarded a grant.

Martinez said that better Little League, softball and Pop Warner facilities will make it possible to bring more people to Beeville and boost the economy.

The council is expected to take formal action on approving a parks master plan at its May 25 meeting.
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