STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — While city leaders discussed utility work to support proposed park improvements, one Marble Falls parks and recreation commissioner urged they address a potential flooding risk that could wipe out any park upgrades.
During a commission meeting April 2, Parks and Recreation Director Robert Moss told the board he was meeting this week with Halff Associates, the company with which the city has an engineering and design contract for park improvements. Moss wants to take a look at the utility location along the shoreline from the mouth of Backbone Creek in Johnson Park all the way to Avenue H as part of planning for Phase 1A of the multimillion-dollar parks improvements projects.
“We’ll go into the field to plan for utility work that’ll be placed underground,” Moss said. “We’re working with (Pedernales Electric Cooperative) to put power underground.”
However, Commissioner Steve Hurst said that, while that work is important, it can’t be more significant than addressing potential floods on Avenue N if the city experiences a heavy rain event. The water from the Avenue N bridge area flows directly into Backbone Creek, which then flows through Johnson Park.
“This is a safety issue,” he said. “There’s another rainy season coming. Six inches of rain is impactful more and more.”
His primary concern is that debris in the Avenue N bridge area has the potential of clogging the cylinders located inside the bridge and blocking the flow of water. This could trigger flooding upstream from the bridge and cause trouble downstream as well.
The water builds velocity pretty quickly, he noted, putting the parks at risk.
“Shouldn’t that be part of what the engineers look at?” he asked, referring to the potential Avenue N bridge problem.
“I agree one hundred percent,” Moss answered. “If we don’t do something with that, any parks improvements we make will be erased. I’m with you on that.”
Moss said the priority for Phase 1A of the parks improvement plan is the Backbone Creek bridge in Johnson Park, noting that when the flood of June 2007 hit, water was going over that bridge. Nineteen inches of rain fell in six hours causing massive damage to the city’s roadways, parks system, businesses, and residences.
However, city officials can’t look at only one part of the flood issue, he added, not when water flows from RR 1431 near the Marble Falls VFW Field south into Lake Marble Falls. In addition, Avenue N and Avenue S have both private and public properties.
City officials are tasked with examining all parts and will do so at a later date, Moss said.
As for the Backbone bridge, Moss said that structure, which would be considered a “street project,” will have to be rebuilt before any major improvements can be made in Johnson Park. A street project goes on the city’s Capital Improvement Projects list.
“So the Johnson Park bridge will likely be part of the next CIP annual revision,” Moss said.
Hurst said money is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, adding several local entities are impacted by the Avenue N bridge.
“Obviously, we know we need to do something with that area,” the commissioner said. “We have a lot of planned improvements in that area. And we don’t know how (possible flooding is) impact(ing) (the area)? That concerns me. We’re just playing Russian roulette if we don’t address it.”
While looking at design concepts is important, Hurst said not addressing the flood issues is “a mistake.”
“There are no studies, no data,” Hurst said. “If it’s being dealt with, just share it with us. … I’m apprehensive about it because it’s an issue.”
Moss will meet with members of Halff Associates on Thursday, April 5.
During the April 2 meeting, commissioners also:
• were told Spring Break 2018 presented by H-E-B drew more than 2,700 participants, which was a 23 percent jump from 2017;
• were told new main filters were installed in the city pool at a cost of $10,000 and the baby pool was re-plastered for $8,000. Moss noted the city has spent more than $100,000 on the city pool since 2010 to keep the 45-year-old facility operational. “We’re going to keep it open as long as we can,” he said. “Those people who don’t have pools would be lost without it.”
• were told the department is interviewing applicants for two technical positions in the department;
• learned that about 60 volunteers will be cleaning up the back nine of the disc golf course at Westside Park, located at the intersection of Avenue Q and Second Street, the city cemetery, Avenue N, and Industrial from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, April 6. The effort is part of Keep Marble Falls Beautiful, and everyone is welcome to volunteer. Keep Texas Beautiful officials have recommended Keep Marble Falls Beautiful to Keep America Beautiful, the national governing body.
• and welcomed Courtney Pardue as its newest commissioner.