STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
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.