River cleanup project begins at park

Lane Riggs

Staff Writer

City of Uvalde director of parks and recreation Clint Baack’s staff has been working throughout the summer to maintain and improve Uvalde Memorial Park. Though Baack said his main focus is the park’s upkeep, he also said he hopes to add a water park in the future.

Part of the walking trail was closed off on Monday so that city crews could begin clearing silt from the river. The closure is expected to last about three weeks.

Baack has been in charge of parks and recreation for about five years.

“It has improved so much since that time. Before, the parks department didn’t have its own department,” he said. “They couldn’t concentrate on one area, and if they needed employees here or there, they would move them around.

“Before, I think the parks got neglected. Now that we have our own staff and department, I think the park looks great,” Baack said. “We always either get complaints or compliments, and we just do the best that we can with the employees that we have.”

Baack said there are 13 employees spread among the parks, the cemetery, the Willie de Leon Civic Center, and the swimming pool. However, the areas are manageable and a lot of the work is mowing or picking up trash daily, Baack said.

“We clean the park every day, and a lot of it is weedeating or picking up trash,” he said.

He said he hopes to add more irrigation in the areas because he has been experiencing some problems.

“The parks have irrigation already, so we’re just looking at adding irrigation to other areas that don’t have irrigation,” he said.

Baack plans on working on the irrigation during the winter months. He said the process would take 2-3 years.

Similarly, another long-term project Baack is looking at is adding a water park to the area.

“We added the skate park, and now I’m thinking we should add a water park,” he said. “Now that we’re out of the drought, I think that’s something we could add.”

He hopes to add the water park within the next couple of years, as he said it would be better to build it when Uvalde is not experiencing drought conditions.

Silt cleanup

“We will be closing the walking trails on the west side of the walking trail, down the south side,” he said. “Walkers or runners will be redirected because we’ll be pumping water.”

The park will remain open.

“We just want people to be patient with us, because we want to get the fountain working again and we want to clear up the water,” he said. “Hopefully the water will be more presentable then.”

He said they haven’t been able to work on the silt previously because of financing.

“In San Antonio, they have a river clean up crew,” he said. “We just don’t have that kind of financing. That’s why we have to deal with this now, because the silt has been building up for awhile.

“This is the first project, and we hope that it clears it up,” Baack said. “If not, then we’ll move on to work on other areas. Then we’ll go to another solution.”

Because of these projects, hosted fun runs and the disc golf course, Baack said the park is continually growing.

“It’s growing daily. We’ll release a statement later on everything we’re working on right now, but we’re looking at adding more to the park,” he said. “We have the basketball league and we want to add other leagues to that. It’s all in the planning stage, but I think these projects are all very good things to be working on.”

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