JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — The city of Marble Falls and the Marble Falls Independent School District are in talks to develop sports fields near Marble Falls High School and allow youth and adults to use gymnasiums on school campuses.
During a parks and recreation commission meeting Dec. 5, department Director Robert Moss told commissioners the two sides are discussing a facility agreement with two purposes.
The first is to make sure the Rotary Park Ball Fields behind the MFISD administration building and bus barn, 1800 Colt Circle, will be available for city use in the future.
The second is to talk to the district about expanding what facilities are available to the public beyond the Rotary Fields.
Currently, the city has youth fields for baseball and softball at Childers (1310 Broadway St.), VFW (1009 Veterans Ave.), and Rotary parks as well as The Greens and Rotary Soccer Fields (1100 Sixth St.) The only city-owned field open to adults is Johnson Park Ball Field, 230 Ave. J.
But these facilities are not always available for community-wide recreation because the fields must have time to rest during off-seasons; must receive maintenance and upgrades; and are dedicated to the use of youth and adult sports teams for a large part of the year.
“Our fields most specifically aren’t adequate to serve the demand we have,” Moss said. “As we grow, we’ll have more and more demands for fields, gyms, and courts. If we work together, we can serve better.”
These conversations come on the heels of an agreement between MFISD and the city of Granite Shoals to construct a playing field in the open space at the intersection of Phillips Ranch Road and RR 1431 adjacent to Highland Lakes Elementary School. The MFISD board of trustees approved the agreement in August.
“We started talking about using property on the (Marble Falls High School) and using some space in Manzano Mile,” Moss said. “We want to utilize gyms and tennis courts. Both (MFISD and the city) agree and see a future in working out details on a new agreement.”
MFISD owns acreage between the high school, 2101 Mustang Drive, and Colt Elementary School, 2200 Manzano Mile. The property runs along Manzano Mile.
The director said the parks department has facility agreements with the various youth sports associations, while MFISD has a lease agreement with the youth sports association for the use of the Rotary Park fields.
One change would be placing the administration part under the city, Moss said.
“This will let the city manage facilities after school hours,” he said. “The school will have first use of those facilities.”
This means priority will be given to MFISD sports teams for after-school practices or tournaments.
Moss said the city will provide utilities and maintenance and perhaps hire a supervisor for any new recreational space developed.
He emphasized that the city isn’t looking to build a regional sports complex.
“(MFISD officials) are comfortable with helping to develop land for sports fields,” he said. “There’s a lot involved, not just pushing rock. … Obviously, there’s going to be some engineering deals with irrigation and drainage. I don’t think it will be that complex of a project.”
City Manager Mike Hodge said the city is in the beginning stages of talks with MFISD officials, noting irrigation of any new fields is essential to having a solid facility for practices and games.
Parks commissioner Steve Hurst said that when he and his family moved to the area more than a decade ago, the most glaring omission was the “lack of quality facilities for youth.”
“You can see why I think if there’s a (willing) school board, how can we move forward?” he said.
Hodge said these conversations are the result of MFISD Superintendent Chris Allen seeing where the school district can continue to serve its families.
“I would like to get a sports park and not a complex because of costs at being half or a third,” he said. “One of the perspectives of a successful high school sports program is a feeder system has to be developed and develop the facilities they need. We all know we’re severely behind in that area.”
Hodge noted there’s a need for other youth sports leagues such as volleyball as well as growing the youth basketball program.
The city manager added that Allen “sees where he has facilities that are not being utilized from a community perspective.”
As for a recreational superintendent, Hodge said Moss requested that position be budgeted a few months ago.
“It would make a lot of sense to bring that person on down the road,” he said.