Kenedy looks at children’s center options

Kenedy City Councilman Chris Parker, Councilwoman Cindy Saenz and Mayor Joe Baker were among those who attended a recent workshop where ideas for a future children's activity center were discussed. (Photo by Jeff Osborne)

A commitment to offering a state of the art facility for area youth in the form of a children’s activity center is one of the priorities for the Kenedy City Council and city staff, and details for a future facility were talked about at a recent city workshop.

City leaders were originally committed to spending up to $5 million for a convention/civic center, but a savings on that property has left enough money for a children’s center to be added to the city’s plans.

“This is definitely something near and dear to my heart,” said Kenedy City Manager William Linn. “I’m excited about being able to provide this for our local youth.

The children’s center will be located adjacent to Joe Gulley Park on property which the city had originally considered as a future location for its civic center. But the purchase of the old Six Shooters Junction restaurant freed up the land near the park for other options. Kenedy leaders agreed that a children’s activity center would be an excellent addition to the community on that property, which is near Nottingham Lane.

“We talked about a location, and the one near Joe Gulley Park seems perfect,” said Mayor Joe Baker. “We listened to the concerns of residents living in that area about the impact a convention center would have had there. The children’s center will be located toward the back of the property so there will be less disruption and light spillover.”

A Kenedy resident attending the workshop asked about plans to link Escondido Creek Parkway to Joe Gulley Park, which would also benefit those visiting the children’s activity center.

“Those plans are still in place,” Baker said.  “At some point those trails (at Joe Gulley and the Escondido Parkway) will be continuous. Hopefully, that can be done in the next six months.”

Linn said initially the plan is to use red crushed granite to link the concrete trails at the two sites, which he said is an excellent base for a future concrete overlay.

“It will be taken care of,” Linn said. “It’s something that has been on our radar for quite some time.”

Linn was asked what features the youth activity center will include.

“A full size basketball court and a game area, a concession area, weight room and video game area are all things we’ve looked at,” he said. “There will be no charge for our youth to use it, just like we don’t charge for our local groups to use the Little League fields.”

One Kenedy resident said she hoped to see a children’s museum also be part of the activity center, giving kids a place to play.

“I could see it being set up like a storefront, and could see some things that could be incorporated from children’s museums in New Braunfels and San Marcos. Not every child is an athlete and this would give something for them to do.”

Baker said he thought that was a great idea, and something that could appeal to different ages and abilities.

“I think it would be really cool to offer kids a place for internet access,” one resident said, adding that maybe the Kenedy library could be relocated to that site, or at least a smaller version of it which focuses on children’s activities.

“I like those ideas, but the library is not ours,” Linn said. “It is operated by (Karnes County), but we might be able to work something out.”

“I like the idea as well,” Baker said. “It would be great to be able to offer some of the libraries activities at the children’s activity center. Maybe there could be an annex, rather than moving the entire library.”

Asked about potential hours of operation, Linn said he envisioned the children’s activity center being open until 8 or 9 p.m.

“It will also be a safe place for children to go, a haven for them if they feel threatened,” he said.

Councilman James Douglas said an emphasis on gaming would appeal to a lot of youth.

“I love the idea of having an area where kids can play games,” he said. “That area would probably always be full. A lot of kids who are quiet and shy would enjoy that.”

Douglas said the city should also consider having a room at the activity center that would be devoted to hosting events such as children’s birthday parties.

“Those are great ideas,” Baker said. “It’s important for us to put on our thinking caps and look at what is successful in other communities.”

Linn said he would like to see plans move forward on the children’s activity center as soon as possible.

“While it is for our youth, what’s good for our children is good for Kenedy,” he said.

•josborne@mysoutex.com•

 

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