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2013-03-21

City Park - not a citizens' committee project

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Expressing a desire that "this isn't made out to be a political struggle," Glenn Clark, a member of the City of Bandera Planning and Zoning Commission and also of the newly formed citizens' committee, offered an explanation of an exchange that took place after the Thursday, March 14, city council meeting that included himself, Councilman Brandi Morgan and Joe Hearn, supposed chairman of the citizens' committee.
'On my own ...'
In an email sent Monday, March 18, Clark disavowed several times that the park project seemingly undertaken by him and Hearn was in anyway connected to the citizens' committee. He wrote unequivocally, "There is no park project being undertaken by the Citizens Committee. At our last meeting we discussed playground equipment and the request for space for soccer fields in the park." During a citizens' comment agenda item, a representative of Bandera County Youth Soccer had made an informal request for allocation of soccer fields during the March 7 city council meeting.
During the citizens' committee meeting - date unknown - Clark apparently told members - names unknown - that he was trying to renew interest in a proposed skate park plan that had been dormant for over a decade.
"I had done some research on foundations that in the past have made funds available to skate park projects," Clark wrote, adding that he shared pictures and other information that he had gathered with those attending the last citizens' group meeting.
Just to make everything clear, Clark reiterated, "The pursuit of this project is something I, as an individual, have undertaken and is in no way connected to any group."
Cordial exchange?
Referring to events that occurred after the city council meeting on March 14, Clark continued, "I also spoke with Brandi Morgan at the city council meeting and told her what I had and was planning to give her a copy of the folder." According to Clark, Morgan apparently generously offered to share her research "so we wouldn't cover the same ground."
Morgan also made him a copy of the City Park map that included her notes about different projects. "We planned to continue sharing ideas and info," Clark wrote.
Also according to Clark, Hearn volunteered to help him gather information and input for the skate park. Clark indicated he had made folders with all pertinent information, which he plans to distribute to city council, as well as the city administrator and mayor. "I had planned to leave [a copy] with the city secretary for all interested parties to view," he wrote.
Yet a third time, he disabuses anyone of the notion that this fact and information gathering was done under the auspices of the citizens' committee.
"When I have all my info, I, and not anyone from a group, will present it to the city council," Clark wrote, adding that the only information he had received from Mayor Don Clark was referring him to City Secretary Linda Boshek who gave him total amount of funds in the skate park account.
Additionally, Glenn Clark also talked with his neighbor, Rilla Stephens, who was a part of a group that originally solicited funding for the skate park. Coincidentally, Stephens is also a member of the citizens' committee.
Morgan's two-year involvement
"I am looking forward to working with and accepting help from anyone willing to do something for the kids of this community," Glenn Clark continued. "Hopefully I can get a package together before too long so it will be public and we can get support for completing this project. Of course I will be expecting support from the local papers when the time comes."
With all the information sharing that had gone on among Glenn Clark, Hearn, Mayor Clark and Stephens, it seems disingenuous that no one mentioned Morgan's two-year involvement with the City Park project. After all, Hearn and Don Clark were on the Economic Development Corporation when she brought them her proposals. Additionally, during a recent meeting of city council, Mayor Clark noted "Brandi could be in charge of a park beautification project."
Backstory
During an EDC meeting in May 2011, the long-awaited skate park was discussed at length.
At that time a newly elected councilman, Morgan volunteered as liaison for the venture and said she would attempt to secure a grant similar to that awarded to the City of New Braunfels. However, she indicated that charging an admission fee might be contrary to the grant rules. City residents would be issued a park pass while skateboarders living in Bandera County and out of county would be required to pay a $5 entry fee.
Then EDC President, the late Horst Pallaske, pointed out that the city had donated land for the park, which would probably count as an in-kind donation toward matching funds for the grant. He also noted that previous contributions to the skate park remain available. "We also have EDC funds that can be used," Pallaske said.
Longtime EDC Director, Hearne asked, "Has anyone canvassed the neighbors to see if they want a skate park nearby?"
According to Morgan, the park would be located at the back of the park, which would preclude disturbing the residents.
To Pallaske's query about the skate park design, Morgan said companies can tailor parks for specific areas - and provide liability insurance as well.
Other concerns included security, on-going maintenance and electricity use. Morgan indicated skate parks require little upkeep and Pallaske said electricity and security might have to be included in the EDC budget.
"Now don't get me wrong, I think this would be great for our kids, but how many kids actually live in the town? I'm not sure we have that many kids anymore. We need to do our research," said Don Clark, another longtime EDC director.
"More amenities for kids might draw families back to the city," Morgan replied. She also commented that young adults would probably use the facility, too.
Binky Archer, Bandera councilman and an EDC director, volunteered to research the project with Morgan.
After the research was completed, the final cost of a skate park proved prohibitive so the matter was scrapped again - until now, its third incarnation.
'Mistaken &
delusional?'
When asked to comment on Glenn Clark's recollection of the contentious encounter with her after the March 14 city council meeting, Morgan noted, "How does Glenn Clark approach (Mayor) Don Clark and Joe Hearn with his plans and ideas without the mayor and Joe considering or even mentioning the time, sweat and interest I've invested in this project? This makes no sense to me."
She opined, "Maybe they're afraid I might accomplish something - with or without their help - or maybe they're simply thoughtless and inconsiderate. Whatever the reasoning, I'm sure that somehow they'll try to make themselves out to be the 'good guys' in all this."
Understanding the rumors about her that will surely fly in certain circles, Morgan continued. "If they really care - and I'm 'mistaken and delusional' - they'll have to prove it once and for all. They'll have to give Bandera a playground in City Park!"
For the record, Glenn Clark also noted, "Joe Hearn is the spokesman for the citizens group so I would ask that you approach him with questions about that group." The Courier reiterates, Mayor Don Clark named Glenn Clark as a member of what he now refers to as "that group."