During a meeting at City Hall Thursday afternoon, Commissioner Gilbert Herrera said he would put the Martin Luther King Recreational Park, south of West Corpus Christi Street, at the top of the so-called community parks.
Those would be parks with more than five acres.
Earlier in the meeting, commissioners had recommended placing Flournoy Park at the top of the list for neighborhood park improvements because of its central location within the city.
Commissioners chose to put MLK first for the larger parks for the same reason.
Herrera pointed out that MLK is used most by soccer leagues during their fall and spring seasons. In the summer, the Bernardo Sandoval Sr. Municipal Swimming Pool is the center of activity at that park.
Herrera expressed concern about the condition of a four-goal basketball court located just south of the Beeville Boys and Girls Club.
He said he understood that the city and Boys and Girls Club were supposed to share the maintenance of the court. But he felt the city had quit paying attention to it.
Commissioner Luis “Tiny” Longoria agreed, saying one of his concerns is a lack of parking during large events at the soccer fields and during basketball season at the Boys and Girls Club.
City Parks Superin-tendent Fred Diaz agreed. Parking spaces are hard to find in the pool area, at the Boys and Girls Club and along South Quinn Street when events are going on anywhere within the park.
Although commissioners have entertained the idea of relocating the pool and soccer fields, they seemed concerned with the need to make improvements at that location first.
The commission has said the city needs to address the condition of the pool soon.
Commissioners then suggested placing the Carlos Reyes B. Park second on the list for improvements.
Although there is an existing restroom building at the park, the commissioners have been calling for improvements there for some time.
Commissioners have been aware, however, that vandalism is a constant concern where public restrooms are concerned.
Herrera had proposed at an earlier meeting that improvements need to be made on Pop Warner practice fields, drainage and seating capabilities for families watching football practice sessions.
Longoria recommended that Kohler (Nopal) Park in the city’s northwest corner be placed third on the list for community parks.
He said he and Commissioner T.J. Faust had spent some time at that park during a recent tour of city parks. The park is popular with area residents and is one of the city’s most popular facilities.
A walking trail, playground equipment, picnic shelters, a bridge and a water area for kids to use in the summer are all popular with those who use the park.
Longoria said he and Faust noticed that parts of the park were popular with skateboarders.
But Herrera quickly said that he had been told earlier that many residents of the neighborhood do not want a skate park there.
Commissioners then agreed that improvements to the Poesta Creek Park on South Tyler should be last on the list.
“I like that park,” Herrera said. He lives in the area and takes his young son there to play.
But Poesta Creek was recently converted from what was basically an empty field with a couple of baseball practice fields to one of the city’s most popular recreational areas.
Grant money from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allowed the city to build a half-mile walking trail and some picnic shelters in that park.
Usage of the facility improved immediately and former City Manager Ford Patton then initiated a request for 4B sales tax funds from the Beeville Economic Improvement Corporation for more improvements.
Two playscapes were purchased and installed with that money, improvements were made to one of the baseball practice fields and barbecue pits, trash receptacles, fencing and water fountains were installed there.
Herrera said the one thing he would like to see at that park now is restrooms.
The meeting ended with the commissioners saying they would rank improvements to VMP last on their list. They wanted to start with Flournoy Park, the neighborhood park that is the most visible to city residents and visitors and the most likely site for a new skate park.
“And we work our way down,” said City Manager Tom Ginter.
Jody Alaniz, a liaison from the EIC, reminded the commissioners that there would be some concern about funding. Alaniz is chairman of the EIC board and he said board members are eager to provide some 4B sales tax money for park improvements, but the amount of money they have is limited.
Ginter then reminded the commissioners that even state grant funds will be restricted in the future. He said Gov. Rick Perry has asked all state agencies to reduce their budgets by 5 percent. He said that is bound to affect the amount of grant money the state parks agency has to award in the future.
“I don’t think we should wait for Big Brother to come down and help us out,” Herrera said. “The city needs to take the initiative.”
That could mean that the commission eventually will approach the City Council with a proposal for a substantial bond sale to finance park improvements.
A bond issue would require increases in property taxes to repay the bonds.
The city needs to have a parks master plan in place before that happens, however.
Ginter said he expects to have some results from Gignac and Associates, the architecture firm preparing the plan, by the end of April or the first of May.