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What's more dangerous in city park-middle schoolers or horses?

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Approving new park rules, regs and recommendations for Bandera City Park moved inexorably forward during a city council meeting on Thursday, May 17.

Most items had been pinpointed during a special meeting-workshop held Tuesday, April 24. According to City Administrator Mike Cardenas, council will take action on other potential changes to park rules during future meetings.

In the absence of Mayor Horst Pallaske, whose resignation will be effective Thursday, May 31, Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher presided over the meeting.

As per the Texas Municipal League, in lieu of holding a special election or appointing an interim mayor, the designated mayor pro tem presides over city council meetings and serves as representative for the city.

Additionally, as mayor pro tem, Schumacher retains voting powers.

A discussion about who gets into Bandera City Park free continued. At an earlier meeting this month, council approved allowing county high school students free admittance on weekends if they present a valid ID.

Last week, council approved the same free admittance for middle school students with the same caveat.

However, council was under the impression that middle school students were not issued identification. An impression that Councilman John Hegemier took care to negate, saying, "They're supposed to have identification. They just lose it."

In that case, council decided middle school students could present either a county library card or a school ID ¬for free park admittance. "The main thing is students must be required to present some kind of identification," said Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher.
Councilman Brandi Morgan, who serves as a substitute teacher, noted with tongue-in-cheek, "After subbing (at the middle school) all day, I'd be nervous about letting (the students) into the park at all!"

Another point decided upon was park openings and closings.

Hegemier had thoughtfully provided city administrators with a timetable of ever-changing sunset times throughout the calendar year to allow for adjusted park closings.

Instead, Cardenas suggested that the park open at 8 am and close 30 minutes before sundown - whenever time that is. "I studied the moonrise tables and it would be confusing to make that many adjustments," he said.

To a man - and woman - everyone agreed. As Councilman Brandi Morgan pointed out, "Joe's been pretty good at getting everybody out of the park." Joe Frazier has served as the park's longtime attendant. At an earlier meeting, he had requested closing the park a half hour before sundown to allow park visitors to pick up trash and dispose of hot charcoal safely.

Council also gave Cardenas authority to limit or prohibit cooking fires and barbecue pits in City Park during droughts.

An issue that engendered much discussion but no action concerned rules about horses in City Park, including those ridden in and arriving in trailers. Before action is taken, it was recommended that a workshop be convened to receive input from riders and owners of nearby dude ranches.

Previously, it had been decided that no admittance fees would be charged for people riding horses into the park. However, outfitters who trailer in horses must pay the admission fee because "they are making money on the horseback rides."

At the workshop, it was also recommended that outfitters be required to present proof of liability insurance and current Coggins tests on equines being hauled into the park.

Cardenas brought up additional liability issues that surround horses such as spooked animals that run away or possibly kick someone.

Joe Hearn, who now serves as president of the Bandera Economic Development Corporation after Pallaske's resignation, suggested banning horses from the park entirely. "Horses standing in the river create unsanitary conditions.
It's just another liability, like having loose dogs," he said. As per a city ordinance, all dogs must be on leashes in City Park.

Hearn's suggestion, however, gained little support from either council or those attending the meeting. Event coordinator Genie Strickland said, "I'd hate to be in the Cowboy Capital of the World and have horses be banned." She noted that horses are prohibited at RiverFest that is celebrated in City Park along the banks of the Medina River in June. "Don't ban horses, just set some rules," Strickland suggested.

Cardenas was asked to arrange a workshop on horse safety at a later date.