Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Flower Mound Town Council may nix plans for local skate park and community garden
Both initiatives were part of a 2002 bond election approved by voters.
FLOWER MOUND Those who want a skate park in Flower Mound could be disappointed. But if you ask some residents and the town council, those people are nowhere to be found anyway.
During Monday's meeting, council members discussed how and if to continue with plans for a skate park, which was part of the 2002 bond election approved by voters. Other components of the bond was an indoor/outdoor water amenity, a youth center, a gymnasium and a room for seniors, which all eventually became the Community Activity Center (CAC).
The council decided to make the skate park an item of discussion at the strategic planning session that is set for Feb. 8-9. But Monday, council members sounded like they are leaning toward the skate park plan getting scrapped.
The proposed location for the skate park has changed over the years. It was originally to be constructed on land where the CAC is now. Nearby residents at the Bakers Branch neighborhood opposed it. Later, it was moved to the Wilson-Carmel tract, where Heritage Park of Flower Mound is located. But the skate park had funding issues.
It was then proposed as part of Heritage Park, across from the pavilion. Officials considered Gaston Park or Westchester Park as other locations.
On Dec. 6, the Parks, Arts and Library Services (PALS) Board recommended the park be removed from the capital improvement project (CIP) list all together. But if the council decides to move forward with it, the board recommended the location move to behind the Gerault Park softball fields.
Three residents spoke against the skate park Monday, saying there doesn't need to be one in Flower Mound, especially close to a residential area.
Kathy Craig-Silvia, who lives just north of where the park would be, said the town needs to understand the impact of having a skate park. She provided the council a list of 45 cities across the country that have built skate parks.
"Many were sorry afterward after spending thousands of dollars to repair and maintain them or experienced insurance or legal issues," Craig-Silvia said. “You can’t build one and be done. There is constant professional maintenance required, and there are security issues.”
Craig-Silvia said the skate park in Lewisville, which is in an industrial area, always has to be monitored by a park officer.
It's expected that the skate park would cost about $300,000, plus $109,000 for design modifications and to move a water line and a sidewalk.
Council members questioned the project since they haven't heard many people asking for it.
"The only ones who are talking about it are the ones who don't want it," said Councilwoman Jean Levenick. "The people who voted for this thought they were getting it then."
Mayor Tom Hayden asked what the ramifications would be if the project is not done since it was promised to voters as part of the bond package. Town attorney Terry Welch said there would be no legal issues since the bond money has already been spent.
Hayden said putting the item on a ballot is a possibility, but that will be further discussed at the planning session.
About a year ago, the previous council approved a contract for $39,100 for design services for the skate park.
Should the skate park end up being constructed, it is expected to include an area for skateboarding, inline skating, bicycling and motocross.
The council also gave the town staff direction to not pursue a temporary location for a community garden.
The garden was originally proposed to be located at Green Acres Farm Memorial Park, a park residents opposed because of accessibility issues. Now, officials say that park is five to 10 years away from being built. A temporary garden was discussed in the meantime.
Council members balked at the idea of creating a temporary garden since, like the skate park, they haven't heard many residents asking for it.
"I haven’t seen from the community at large the demand for a community garden," said Mayor Pro Tem Kendra Stephenson. “I have questions about whether we need a permanent garden, let alone a temporary one.”
Stephenson questioned whether Flower Mound’s demographics create a need for the garden since lot sizes in the town are typically large enough for people to have their own gardens.
Council members decided to pursue a permanent location for the garden if and when the demand arises.
The council directed the town staff to pursue a set of agreement guidelines in which the town can establishes parameters for sponsorship opportunities at parks and other amenities should the right offer come along.
But council members were cautious about the prospect of advertising at its parks.
"What I don’t want is a situation where we feel like we’re in an amusement park," said Councilman Steve Dixon. “Like this ride is sponsored by this company. That would cheapen the look of Flower Mound.”
Dixon did say, however, that having guidelines would be helpful for the right opportunity.
"We've had two situations where people approached us about this, and we didn't know what to tell them," Dixon said.
Chuck Springer, interim town manager, said some of the town’s comparison cities that have had sponsorship opportunities at their parks are Plano and Lewisville, who have done it for $1 million and $1.5 million, respectively.
The town offered sponsorship opportunities on a smaller scale at Fort Wildflower, the community-built playground at Heritage Park.
All council members, however, opposed the idea of spending $32,500 on a consultant to help create the policy.
In the only action item on Monday's agenda, the council approved a construction contract to C. Green Scaping, LP for $235,348 to construct Braden-Bakersfield Park.
The park is a five-acre piece of land within Bakersfield Park. Phase I is expected to include one large multi-sport irrigated grass playing field for soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse and cricket, a perimeter chain link fence and a practice baseball/softball chain link backstops at the site's four corners.
Phase II will include perimeter concrete walkways, landscaping with irrigation, additional parking and electrical service bollards.
The park will be located in the general area of where the bands play during the town's Independence Fest celebration.
Levenick asked about the heavy use on the surface from the festival. Kent Collins, assistant town manager, said the turf is designed for such uses.
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