Marble Falls parks commissioners verify athletic fields, aquatics center bonds

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — After an in-depth discussion, the Marble Falls Parks and Recreation commissioners verified the bonds dealing with athletic fields and the aquatics center during the regular meeting Sept. 9.

Commissioner Bob Fallis raised concerns about the way the bond was written regarding the athletic fields and the site of a possible adult soccer field.

So in his motion, he asked the words of “using the Johnson Park softball park” be removed. Seth Mayfield gave the only dissenting vote. Chairman Dave Rhodes was absent.

“I didn’t feel it would work and gather the support of the community,” Fallis said. “I thought it would detract from the issue.”

City staff targeted land owned by J.M. Huber Corporation near Second Street and Avenues J and L. Fallis’ concern is that city staff members and Huber staff members are still in the talking stages. If the two can’t come to an agreement, staff members’ alternate site for the field was the Johnson Park softball park.

Fallis said he’s talked to several people who don’t want that softball facility turned into a soccer field.

“I think each option has its merits,” he said. “We need to settle down on what it’s going to be. We can’t give (the public) two sites and expect them to respond with the same interest. I have very little interest in the softball field. I don’t want to see one sport suffer to benefit another.”

City Manager Ralph Hendricks said Huber has demonstrated a willingness to work with city staff on various city projects such as the hike and bike trails. Some of the trail runs through Huber property.

The decision, however, rests in the company’s hands.

“Our intention is to use the Huber property,” said Robert Moss, the city parks director. “But we can’t force them to do it.”

The way the bond is written allows the city to spend the money on athletic fields, Moss said, not on a specific location.

Fallis said he felt like he was in a race car driving a course that isn’t complete.

“I feel like I don’t have a plan,” he said. “If I get to the end, where do I go? We’re asking for a lump sum of money. The adult field is a property that’s necessary so the league has a place to hold games for two seasons. It’s necessary for the field in order to finalize work on The Greens (soccer fields).”

Hendricks asked if the commissioners no longer want the bond to be put on the ballot.

“I’m not making that suggestion,” Fallis said. “We moved ahead faster than we should have. I sure don’t feel more comfortable about it now.”

“If the (Huber) property doesn’t become available, if the softball field is not preferred by y’all, I think there’s other property that will work,” the city manager said. “I think it’s up to staff to get property that’s workable.”

Moss said he would start that process.

Hendricks said he believes Huber staff are working through the process with its leadership, and he hopes to know a decision before the election in November.

“I hope they see it as a great project as well,” he said. “Our preference is to be there.”

The commissioners also heard:
• that Moss received seven responses for the Request for Qualification from firms interested in designing a possible aquatic center.
• that city staff is creating a pamphlet outlining the bond. Moss said it will be ready for disbursement in a week.
• the hike and bike trail from Avenue N to Westside Park is 99 percent complete. Moss said he believes it will be finished in a few days.
• the South Main Street Project between Yett and Buena Vista streets had irrigation installed, and Moss believes the landscaping should be close to completion. The Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation approved $90,000 for landscaping on this project and curbing for the hike and bike trail.

jfierro@thepicayune.com