The $20,000 price tag to hire a consultant to prepare a parks and recreation plan earned ire from one city councilman but support from the mayor Tuesday when the topic was considered at city hall.
According to city staff, a formal parks and recreation plan is required in order to access state grant money and would be beneficial in future fundraising efforts. Council directed staff to solicit proposals for a consultant to develop the plan.
Texas Parks and Wildlife offers several grant opportunities with awards of tens of thousands of dollars that carry various matching requirements.
“We could do it in-house but it will take us longer, and we want to proceed with the mayor’s request to develop a parks and recreation fund,” said city manager Vince DiPiazza.
“What will they do?” asked Councilman Rogelio Muñoz.
DiPiazza said the consultant would solicit public input by way of public meetings, surveys and social media. Already-proffered suggestions include a splash pad, additions to the existing walking trail, and new playground equipment.
“That costs $20,000?” asked Muñoz.
“Yes, $15,000 to $20,000 is what we are looking at. We are hoping it will leverage us some money down the line,” DiPiazza responded, noting that the cost could be covered by a combination of parks trust fund money and unspent funds in other areas.
The consultant would be tasked with prioritizing projects based on popularity among staff, council and the public, but not with writing grant applications. The consultant would also evaluate existing parks and recreation facilities to determine opportunities for improvements and additions and compile city demographics, growth and trends.
Councilman John Flores asked if the consultant would provide a timeline for proposed projects, as well as estimated costs, to which director of city planning Susan Anderson assured him the consultant would. The consultant would have a designated time period to complete the project, but that timeline has not been established.
“I’m in favor. I know $20,000 is a lot, but sometimes you have to spend the money,” remarked Mayor Don McLaughlin.
“A prevalent thing people come to us about is our parks,” said Councilman Chip King. “…access for ADA, etc. That is always a reoccurring theme. It is important.”
“I’m opposed. It’s $20,000 for something that sounds ambiguous, to be candid,” Muñoz said.
Council did not take action as the topic was listed only for discussion, but staff was directed to solicit proposals.
“Once we’ve received those proposals we’ll make a recommendation to council and they’ll decide whether or not to proceed,” said city manager Vince DiPiazza.
Council approved the purchase of a baler for the recycling center, and a service yard gate and pipe saw for the water and sewer departments.
Cost for the baler is $7,900; service yard gate,$5,961; and pipe saw, $10,625.
“The recycling center operates with two cardboard balers. In July of 2018, one of the balers, which is a 1995 model, began to malfunction,” noted public works director Juan Zamora.
Zamora said the equipment has a leaking hydraulic cylinder, and a hydraulic pump and directional valve that need to be replaced, but the parts are no longer available.
The current service yard gate is more than 20 years old and issues have popped up over the last five years.
“Without these gates, the equipment/vehicles are exposed to theft and/or vandalism,” Zamora said.
A pipe saw is utilized by the water and sewer departments for repairs of water and sewer mains.