In its first meeting in almost three months, the Waxahachie Parks Board convened Thursday to discuss its role now that the 2007 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan is complete.
That master plan is awaiting final adoption, an action hinging upon discussions of the proposed buffer zone around the 100-year flood plain around the city’s creeks and waterways. The buffer zone has met with opposition from a local group that was “mostly realtors,” parks and recreation director John Smith said.
The city is looking at “tweaking the language” of the plan to clarify the portion that led to confusion, director of planning Clyde Melick said.
In the next item of business, the board began discussing its role and priorities now that its primary function has been completed.
“I think that one is the most specific goal to you (the board), I think it should be the parks board’s responsibility to determine what the city desires,” Smith said. “You should speak to us, the city and you should represent the general public.”
The board should help prioritize projects, Smith said, saying, “Twenty years ago, Waxahachie probably didn’t know what a skate park was, but here in 2007, we’re very well aware of what a skate park is and that’s probably one of the first things y’all are going to be working on.”
Board member Bonney Ramsey agreed, saying, “I truly hope so, and I was tickled to death (about an article on the topic). … I was glad to see it in there.”
Ramsey said she had given Francois de Kock, the lead for Halff Associates on the master plan, a video of a specially designed skate park.
“I would love for this park board to look at this DVD. … It shows how they constructed this park - I think it’s somewhere in Iowa - it doesn’t look like a skate park, it’s just this wonderful park, but it lends itself to (skating) activities,” Ramsey said, adding that the park could serve a dual purpose as a normal park as well.
Melick discussed an idea he had about a possible location for the park, saying the Northgate Shopping Center could provide a possible site.
Noting that the center has about a 60 percent occupancy and JCPenney will leave soon, Melick proposed redeveloping some of the large parking lots into a park.
Melick said placing the park there could also be beneficial to the center, if businesses relating to its activities were attracted to the proximity of potential customers.
Aside from helping determine priorities, the board can also help the parks and recreation department by making budget suggestions or by working with the city on elements - such as drainage - of new and existing parks.
Finding the role of the board will not be easy.
“It’s a fairly daunting task,” Smith said.
At the top of the list of things to do for the parks and recreation department will be to look at the undeveloped park properties it now owns and make them viable parks, including Crystal Cove Park on the south side of the lake and Mustang Creek Park, located behind Lowes and Target.
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