WAXAHACHIE

An assessment of the lake restrictions imposed on non-city residents over the Fourth of July holiday week highlighted the discussions had at the City of Waxahachie Parks Board meeting Thursday.

“I think what we did was make our streets safer up and down lakeshore drive,” expressed John Smith, Director of Parks and Recreation.

The weekend of June 31 and July 1, vehicles of residents and nonresidents were counted. Smith estimated about 20—30 residential users and about the same amount of cars was turned away.

Smith expressed that traffic flow ran smoothly.

On the Fourth of July, a total of 262 vehicles were calculated with 115 cars allowed through the gate, and 147 turned away. On July 7, 84 vehicles were counted as residents, and 24 nonresidents were denied entry; on July 8, 79 residents were counted and 45 nonresidents.

“We only counted those who we talked to,” Smith clarified.

Smith relayed the feedback from the lake residents was positive and that the interactions with drivers were civil. There was only one instance where an individual refused to show their license and was ultimately turned away. There were a handful of occasions when a nonresident was upset. Those who were turned away were given alternative ideas such as Bardwell Lake and other local parks. Smith said attendance at Bardwell Lake and the parks raised.

“We had quite a bit of lake residents pull up and say, ‘thank you,’” Smith added.

The board then discussed trends from the community on social media and through news outlets. He relayed the comments were “all over the board." He added that his "general take was people think there are safety issues out there and I think that’s due to there’s a lot of people out there.”

The owner of What’s SUP Kayak’s vocalized on the news that her business hurt during the restriction. She also said the majority of her business comes from residents outside of Waxahachie. The only other business affected was H&H Grocery because they “didn’t sell as many minnows,” said Albert Lawrence, assistant city manager.

The board discussed the possibility of issuing permits next year to eliminate some restrictions and allow non-Waxahachie residents to enjoy the lake.

Currently, a plan for Waxahachie Lake is not in place for Labor Day. It will be revisited next meeting.

Dr. Jamal Rasheed, the president and CEO of The Ellis County African American Hall of Fame, presented the proposed markup of the 8/47 Memorial. This display honors the 19 lives lost Aug. 5, 1947, in Waxahachie. A pickup truck traveling northbound on US HWY 77 collided into a fuel truck, killing all 19 men.

The memorial will be built on a slab across from The Ellis County African American Hall of Fame.

The board approved the concept of the memorial but needed to double check if religious crosses could be on public, city property.

Smith provided an update on parks projects and activities. He started by mentioning the windstorm that came through on July 6 and the damage that occurred. He relayed that the team is primarily focused this week was on cleaning up from the storm. Smith said other services such as lawn care and other maintained was slowed due to the high winds.

“Hopefully we will get back into our regular routine of mowing an edging,” Smith stated. “We haven’t stopped our facilities from doing what they’re doing — taking care of bathrooms and trash.”

Smith relayed a preconstruction meeting for phase two of Pen Park took place. All of the subcontractors were present as well as the contractor. They went through questions and will be mobilized the week of July 16 to get started.

The board is still pushing for phase one on Little Creek Trail as they discuss the realignment. Smith and Lawrence are meeting with Waxahachie ISD officials the week of July 16 about receiving access to the property that housed the Ninth Grade Academy and currently Global High School.

The next City of Waxahachie Park Board meeting will take place Aug. 2.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450