Skate park goes back to the drawing board
by Gary Kent
Feb 19, 2009 | 1662 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Councilman David Carabajal
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City Council members voted to overturn plans to build a skate park at Flournoy Park when they met on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

They also reaffirmed their decision to let Councilman David Carabajal oversee the planning and siting of the project and to appoint Mayor Pro Tem John Fulghum as his alternate for the park.

The decision came after considerable discussion on two different plans for a skating facility in one of the city’s parks.

Richard Rodriguez, a member of the Beeville Parks and Recreation Commission, began the discussion by calling for the council to continue with plans to build a facility for skateboarders at Flournoy Park.

Rodriguez and fellow parks commissioners had approved plans for a concrete slab to be built near an existing tennis court slab and for metal ramps and other skating objects to be attached to the slab.

The commissioner said he originally had wanted to see the facility located behind the Beeville Boys and Girls Club on West Corpus Christi Street. But after the city staff recommended locating the facility at Flournoy Park because of its visibility, Rodriguez said he realized it would be a better location.

“Flournoy Park is the only site that keeps coming up,” Rodriguez said. “It is not isolated.”

The commissioner admitted that the design for the Flournoy facility would be small compared to more elaborate facilities.

“Some say it’s too small,” Rodriguez said. “But cost is what determines that.” He said he changed his mind about building a facility behind the Boys and Girls Club because it would interfere with soccer fields now located there.

He said the commission had discussed other parks but they are too secluded. He said Flournoy Park also has enough room to expand the facility later if the city sees the need for a bigger skating area.

“This should have been done a long time ago,” Rodriguez said. “We need to get the kids off the streets.’

Carabajal then reminded councilmen that they had already appointed him to spearhead the project. From the beginning, Carabajal has recommended that the facility be made entirely of concrete without metal ramps that could require more maintenance and could open the city to liability concerns if someone is injured on a broken skating ramp.

Carabajal said he had met with some members of the local soccer league and had been assured that they would work with the city on the project. The councilman has for some time recommended building the facility south of the Bernardo Sandoval Sr. Municipal Swimming Pool between a playground area and some soccer fields.

Carabajal commended Rodriguez and the parks commission for the work they had done on the project, but he thought it was time for the City Council to take complete charge of it.

A member of the audience, Benny Puente, said he skates with the kids and he said they need a place to go so they can avoid being chased off private property.

Puente said the location behind the Boys and Girls Club “can be a dangerous spot” because it is not as visible as the Flournoy site.

Rodriguez said if the city keeps pushing the project back “it could be years before the project gets done.”

But Carabajal refused to support the Flournoy Park site.

“I know we need to move on with this,” Mayor Kenneth Chesshir said. He suggested tabling the matter for more study.

“I recommend moving forward with the Flournoy project,” Carabajal said of current plans for improvements at the park. “But without the skate park.”

City Manager Ford Patton said the larger, all concrete facility could easily increase the cost of the project from an estimated $150,000 to something like $400,000-$500,000.

“Once that’s decided it’s going to settle a lot of questions,” Patton said. He reminded councilmen that obtaining a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the larger and more expensive facility will require a number of steps that will increase spending and lengthen the time necessary to complete the project.

He said that the city will need a comprehensive master plan for all its parks before it can apply for the larger state grant that will be needed to pay for the project.

“These grants are more competitive,” Patton said.

Councilman Mike Scotten asked about the construction of the less expensive ramps and Patton explained that they were made of prefabricated metal and then attached to a concrete slab.

“Are they going to be bolted?” Scotten asked.

“Yes,” Patton responded.

“The ones I saw looked like they were aluminum and they were painted,” said City Finance Director Robert Aguilar. He said different ramps in different designs could be purchased.

“You can make your own combination,” Patton said.

“We need to have one, I agree with that,” Scotten said. He then said he wanted to see photos of the ramps.

Carabajal commented on the 80x100-foot concrete slab that would be built at Flournoy Park. He said that is a small facility. Again, he recommended the more complicated concrete structure.

“What does something like that cost?”

Councilman Jimbo Martinez asked.

Carabajal said it would cost $300,000-$400,000 for the skate facility alone. He said Ingleside had built a complex around the skate facility it built.

Patton reminded the council that the design would have to include something other than just a skating structure for the TPWD to consider approving grant funds for the project through its larger of two grant packages.

“I don’t want to cut the kids short,” Scotten said. “I don’t want to rush this thing.”

“That’ll be a multi-year process,” Rodriguez said. “I’ll be dead by the time we get it built.”

“The kids need something now,” Puente said.

“I agree there’s a need,” Carabajal said. “But I agree with Councilman Scotten that we need to do it right.”

“We need to get some dollar amounts and decide how much we want to spend,” Chesshir said.

“There are other ways to fund it,” Carabajal said. “We could try a bond issue.”

Beeville Main Street Manager Molly Young reminded councilmen that there are two deadlines for submitting grant applications to the TPWD, in January and July. The deadline for the lesser, $75,000 grant is only once a year, on Jan. 31. The process for that grant is not as complicated or as competitive as the process for the larger grants.

The state has two deadlines for submitting applications for the larger grants.

Patton said the city would have to do a lot of work before it could apply for one of the larger grants. He said the city would have to begin work on that at least three or four months in advance.

Mayor Pro Tem John Fulghum agreed that the City Council should take charge of the project and he volunteered to work with Carabajal on the project and to accept the position as his alternate. He recommended that council be in charge of the project from beginning to end.

City Attorney Frank Warner said he could see no problem with allowing the council to take charge of the entire project.

“Let’s leave it up to two councilmen,” Carabajal said.

Patton agreed, as long as the councilmen want to take on the job themselves.

Scotten then said he hated to see the parks commission left out of the project completely and recommended that the councilmen work with the commissioners during the planning of the project.

Scotten made the motion to hand the entire project over to Carabajal and Fulghum with the understanding that they would seek input from the commissioners and the motion passed without opposition.

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February 20, 2009
Take the time to fill out the more detailed grant paperwork and get the concrete park, not metal ramps. Metal ramps are good, but concrete is better. You've got to look at this as an investment for the city, the kids, parents, and everyone that enjoys skateboarding. The Flournoy Park is the best site for this type of park. It has great exposure to passer-bys and it's in a prime location. Behind the B&G club won't give it the exposure it needs. You want to attract anyone and everyone that passes by. Build a concession and restroom! If you build it, they will come...