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Bandera City Park overhaul kicks into high gear

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

If all goes according to plans, Bandera City Park will eventually be hotter than a Saturday night at 11th Street Cowboy Bar during a summer celebratory weekend.

Plans are in the hopper to purchase educational play stations for installation throughout the park, reopen a BMX-mountain bike trail and resuscitate long dormant proposed skate park.

At the request of Mayor Don Clark, the Bandera Educational Development Corporation has already earmarked $7,500 for wooden picnic tables for the south side banks of the Medina River. Additionally, EDC has approved $30,000 for a conventional playground. Councilman Binky Archer, who is also a member of the EDC, heads up the EDC Park Committee.

During budget hearings last summer, city council earmarked $30,000 for the educational equipment and concrete picnic tables in City Park proper. The projects were spearheaded by Councilman Brandi Morgan and Mayor Pro Tem John Hegemier, respectively.

"If we cut one piece of play equipment, we'll have enough money for the concrete picnic tables," City Administrator Mike Cardenas told council on Thursday, April 18. Quotes for the tables and equipment came to $29,596 - good until April 25.

The order will include five stations and two concrete picnic tables. The five educational play stations will feature music, butterflies, spiders and bugs, bees and flowers and nature and trees.

Additionally, council also gave their stamp of approval for use of a primitive area in the vicinity of 1st and Pecan streets for a mountain bike trail.

Glenn Clark, a member of planning and zoning commission, said he had spoken with Cardenas about the possibility of revisiting the bike trail.

"Mike said he sees no problem with opening the area up as a BMX Park," Glenn Clark said. "We need to make amends for the way the kids were treated. They need something to do." Glenn Clark advocated "putting the kids in charge of policing the area," and having them report to Cardenas. "Make them feel as if they're a part of it," he added.

In March 2010, a group developed the area for a mountain bike trail without permission from city administrators and elected officials. When brought before council three years ago, the "proposed" track was a fait accompli as members of the "Bandera Buzzards" had already constructed a sizable portion of it.

BMX or bicycle motocross is described as "extreme racing on bicycles in motocross style on tracks with inline start and expressive obstacles."

For the most part, the late Mayor Horst Pallaske and the majority of council were understandably concerned that brush had been cut and trees removed by the group without authorization.

At that time, three residents living in the area had supposedly opposed construction of mountain bike trails.

During the April 18 meeting, Morgan, who lives on 1st Street, told council she would be the only resident affected at this time. "Teenagers are working hard to put something together. I don't think it will be a problem," she said.

When asked about increased liability for the city, attorney Monte Akers felt there would be no problem unless there was a "premises defect that the city knew about and failed to correct."

Hegemier wanted it understood that this portion of City Park was not being dedicated permanently as a mountain bike-BMX trail. Regarding a possible expansion of the disk golf course, he said, "I don't want to hamstring future councils."

Signs will be installed at the entrance delineating rules for usage, specifically forbidding dirt bikes; and trash barrels will be placed along the trails. Also, should the group wish to expand existing trails, they must make a formal request of council.

Pending a review of the city's potential liability, a motion to approve use of a portion of Bandera City Park for mountain bike trails passed unanimously.
Meanwhile Glenn Clark continues to solicit funds for a skate park.

Donations can be sent to Bandera City Hall. For information, call City Secretary Linda Boshek at 830-796-3456.