Marble Falls Parks and Rec commissioner resigns over planning and flood concerns

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

Steve Hurst resigned from the Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Commission on Nov. 6. Courtesy photo

Steve Hurst resigned from the Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Commission on Nov. 6. Courtesy photo

Steve Hurst resigned from the Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Commission on Nov. 6, citing what he sees as the city’s lack of planning for its green spaces and flood mitigation.

The resignation came on the heels of the commission’s monthly meeting, its first after Marble Falls suffered through the Oct. 16 flood. Hurst, who joined the commission in February 2016, has voiced his concerns in the past regarding the city’s preparation for floods, particularly with Marble Falls eyeing more than $3 million in initial improvements for Lakeside and Johnson parks.

The recent flooding invaded Johnson Park, damaging several picnic tables, flowing over the Backbone Creek bridge, and toppling three pecan trees and an elm. Park officials believe the four trees already suffered from old age and the flood weakened the ground at their bases enough to cause them to fall.

Hurst noted that he had requested a plan from city staff for protecting green spaces in the parks system, adding that some parts of the parks are in a flood plain. He had recommended city staff get professional advice on the flood plain issue and a mitigation plan as well as look for ways to improve the Backbone Creek bridge.

Hurst wasn’t comfortable with the city moving forward with a projected $3.3 million Phase 1A project for improvements to Lakeside and Johnson parks, which includes new boat ramps, parking lots, wayfinding signage, lighting, utilities, and a sandy beach, without a plan in place that protects the projects.

“We have to do those things first before we undertake debt,” he said regarding his recommendations.

Hurst said he would be sending the wrong message by staying on the commission.

“Giving passive approval to things I didn’t feel were appropriate at this time,” he said. “I’ve lost that battle. I’m not contributing. Maybe some voices will look at it different. I may not be right about it. Be careful with resources.”

Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Director Moss thanked Hurst for his time on the commission.

“I can only say that I appreciate his leadership, contributions, and passion for the betterment of our community and parks,” Moss said.

Since the October flood, parks and recreation workers have been cleaning up restrooms and electrical systems at Johnson Park. They are replacing the picnic tabletops that were swept away by floodwaters with steel ones to reduce the possibility of a repeat.

The parks crew was responsible for emptying dumpsters in Pecan Valley and assisted other departments as needed, Moss said.

Other flood-related damage included 15 inches of water innudating the pool pump room and destroying three pool pumps. Those have been replaced, Moss said.

“My guys have been working really hard,” Moss said. “I’m very proud of them. They’re keeping a positive attitude and keeping their heads above water.”

Bid packets for the construction work of Phase 1A are available now. The deadline to turn in bids is 3 p.m. Nov. 27.

Moss said city staff anticipate the Marble Falls City Council approving a contract bid during its Dec. 4 meeting.

“We intend on starting construction after the first of the year,” he said.

That work should coincide with the lowering of Lake Marble Falls by the Lower Colorado River Authority.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

8 Responses to “Marble Falls Parks and Rec commissioner resigns over planning and flood concerns”

  1. Rick Shirley says:

    I don’t have a dog in that hunt as a non-resident but I have known Steve a long time. He is speaking common sense and the City is not listening. They are not being good fiduciaries of your tax dollars.

  2. Patricia Eickstead says:

    I have found it difficult to believe from the unset that a beach is being planned. Someone please explain to me why this project makes sense in a flood plain….not a “once in a blue moon flood plain” but a “way more often than we’d like” flood plain”. A far less expensive solution would be to take a pile of hundred dollar bills and toss them in the lake.

  3. Steve says:

    Mr Hurst is absolutely right. To spend money on a project which is surely to fail when a flood hits is idiotic. The current leaders just love to blow opm since they know the tax payers will foot the bill everytime. Maybe they should be the ones to get way finding signage since they have no clue on where to go.

  4. Rick says:

    Something built on sand will not last. These plans need to be based on a permanent foundation. “Make it pretty” just doesn’t
    make sense. Who is responsible for this mess, as they should be held accountable.

  5. joe h says:

    In reading the above story, what I gather from Mr. Steve Hurst is pure frustration of not having an infrastructure in place that will “contain” improvements from being “washed” away when another misfortune incident flooding occurs in future “act of God” occurrence happens. I remember another post I commented on of a different circumstance and mentioned something about the city council, like, maybe being time to elect a new city council who will follow through on the agenda at hand, but on that subject, it was closer to referencing and affecting residents. Another comment made by a resident on that circumstance was, and I quote, “Step it up guys, we love our community and our business owners need incomes. Vacation/Tourism, is our primary source of income, let’s accommodate and enjoy it”. This is the feeling I get of the attitude of the current Council, which a part of me may be gung-ho in the thinking part, but only if “monies” are going to be used to benefit the people of Marble Falls residents. However, I do commend you for the fact of not agreeing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars (3.3 million) as stated in this article. Let’s face it, parks are usually located in floodplains, so, realistically, “sandy beaches” are temporary for enjoyment for “right now” enjoyment, while we are not flooding. Not sure if there is such a “Flood Insurance” that would cover the 3.3 million dollars spent for these improvements to recoup and have these covered to rebuild when flooding happens again in the “umbrella” on a city government. Hopefully it does not fall back to us taxpayers “when” this project is complete and another flooding washes out half or all of 3.3 million dollars worth of spending. I and I’m sure most of the citizens of Marble Falls, appreciate all you did on the Commission and wish you luck in your future endeavors.

  6. Elizabeth Calvert says:

    As a tax payer I think the park project needs to be put on hold till they find a solution for flooding. They are trying to push this through so the hotel will come in. But how many times will sand need to be replaced and things that get torn up from the water need to be replaced. How much are we going to spend on man hrs for constant up keep and supplies. This says 3.3 million now. How much b.c. will it cost in 2 years? Put in more useful things that can sustain floods. Build up the flood plane. Stop and think!

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