As many as 15 soccer moms and dads were in the audience when City Councilman David Carabajal brought the subject to the floor. Carabajal has supported the effort to build a skate park somewhere in the city but he has often suggested building it south of the Bernardo Sandoval, Sr. Municipal Swimming Pool in an area used by youth soccer teams.
This is one of the city’s most attractive park areas with large oak trees and a small playground area located between some soccer fields and the pool compound.
However, the Beeville Soccer League leases property where Carabajal wanted to build the skate park and its members do not want to part with any of that space.
By Monday night’s meeting, it appeared that the councilman had decided against taking any of the BSL fields. Still, he opposed the Flournoy Park location.
He said that building a skating facility between two of the city’s most heavily traveled thoroughfares, North Washington and North St. Mary’s streets, could be dangerous because of “rubberneckers” watching activities in the park, instead of watching where they were going.
“There are other parks in the city,” Carabajal said. As he spoke, two fellow council members, Mayor Pro Tem John Fulghum and Councilman Mike Scotten, sat near him in the audience. Neither of them spoke.
“We’re for a skate park,” said BSL member John Fish. But he said the loss of a soccer field was one of his main concerns. He said the organization has invested a lot in the property because the city has not had the money to make improvements there.
Soccer mom Doris Sutherland agreed with Fish, saying three of her soccer-playing boys also are skaters.
“Skaters are all over town,” she said. Having a central location for a skate facility is not as important as some might think, she said. She said she has seen skaters as far away from the center of town as the Coastal Bend College campus.
“I like the park across from the Dollar General (Flournoy Park),” Mrs. Sutherland said. “I’ve rarely seen anybody utilize that park.”
“There is no way, in good conscience, that I’d recommend the soccer area,” said parks commissioner Gilbert Herrera. He said he also liked the idea of putting the facility at Flournoy Park. Herrera mentioned two alternative parks where the facility could be located, including Poesta Creek Park on South Tyler Street or Veterans Memorial Park.
“The plan we have in place right now is probably the best place,” Herrera said.
Carabajal said he did not like the current plan of building an 80-by-100-foot slab with metal ramps installed on it. He said he wanted the city to build a more expensive skating facility with stronger concrete and built-in ramps and structures for the skaters.
“If it takes another year to build it, it takes another year,” Carabajal said. “But in business you don’t rush things.”
However, parks commission member Richard Rodriguez spoke out against any further delays.
“It’s going to take a long time and we need to get these kids off the street right now,” Rodriguez said.
He said skateboarders are being harassed by police who are asked to keep them from skating on private property. He acknowledged that a number of skaters have been using the depot pavilion slab recently built in the parking lot west of the 300 block of North Washington Street.
He said he encouraged some of them recently to use that slab because it is city property and skaters have nowhere else to go.
Rodriguez then defended using metal ramps and other skating structures. He said the metal structures could be moved if the facility became boring and the current design for the slab would provide enough room to add new structures in the future.
Rodriguez said he saw about 20 skaters using the pavilion slab recently and he encouraged them to call him if they were bothered by the police.
“If we do it your way, it’s going to be a long time before we have something,” Rodriguez told Carabajal.
“It’s all going to come down to money,” Herrera said. “I don’t agree with spending $750,000 for a skate park,” he said. He cited the need for many more recreational projects that would outweigh the need for a skate park.
Herrera mentioned a skate facility built in Ingleside and said that project “came out way over budget.”
“Everything we do should be done first class,” said commission president Bill Hooten. He said he understood Rodriguez’s wish to speed up the process because Rodriguez has a grandson who has been ticketed by the police for skating on private property.
“We’re not going to get anything done for a few months anyway,” Hooten said, noting that it would be impossible for the city to get its application to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department by the Jan. 31 deadline for the next round of grants.
Hooten then asked City Manager Ford Patton how long it would take to prepare an application for a TPWD grant.
Patton said it would take two to three years for the larger grant offer because the city would be required to hire consultants and prepare a master plan for city parks to qualify.
Hooten recommended rescinding the original project plans and having the police leave skaters alone until something can be built for them.
Patton said he did not want to encourage skaters to use the pavilion slab downtown because the facility is not designed for that purpose.
Board member Greg Traylor said he was in favor of rescinding the original plan and looking at it again but he may end up voting in favor of it later. He said the final decision of what to do is up to the City Council anyway.
Patton reminded the commissioners that the council has taken no action on the project but that the final decision would be made by councilmen.
Rodriguez said he would be concerned about putting a skate park at VMP because it is not in a central part of the city.
Commissioner Luis “Tiny” Longoria Jr. reminded all at the meeting that “somebody feels Flournoy Park is the best place for it.”
When Hooten called for a motion, not one member of the commission offered one. At that point, Herrera said the matter had died because no one would offer a motion. Hererra then made a motion to adjourn the meeting without the commission taking any action and it passed without opposition.