No one who spoke about the parks improvements plan Tuesday argued that the city doesn’t need improved facilities for youth sports and senior citizens.
But don’t forget about improving the city’s streets, some of the speakers urged Brownwood City Council members.
Parks Committee Chairman Greg Dodds agreed the streets need work — but a proposal for the Brownwood Economic Development Corp. to use $6 million in sales tax revenue for a parks improvement plan won’t short-change other infrastructure needs such as streets, city officials said.
Dodds and city officials noted that the sales tax revenue proposed for the parks plan can’t, by state law, be used for street improvements and other general operating needs.
There would be no new taxes, since the sales tax revenue is already being collected, according to the plan.
Dodds and others who spoke in favor of the plan said it would not only benefit the city’s youth, but would be an economic draw because it would attract out-of-town tournaments.
Dodds presented the final version of proposal he has presented previously the BEDC and City Council members:
• Phase I — Construct a new swimming pool. Estimated cost, $2 million.
Renovate the Coliseum Annex for use as an entertainment facility which will include use by the Senior Citizens. Estimated cost — $500,000.
• Phase II — Construct baseball/softball fields on a 67-acre tract to be donated to the city by the Brownwood Industrial Foundation located immediately south of the existing baseball/softball facilities. The BIF is offering to donate the property to the city with the stipulation that it be used for park purposes. Estimated cost — $3.5 million.
The total cost of Phases I and II is estimated at $7 million, but members of the Parks Committee believe the additional $1 million can be raised through grants and donations.
The requested funding does not address Phases III and IV of the project.
Phase III includes demolishing the existing baseball/softball fields and relocating the existing soccer fields to this location. Phase IV includes construction of a wellness center. At a previous council meeting Dodds asked council members to adopt the total plan, with the final two phases to be completed as funds are available
Dodds said plans call for the Brown County Elections Office to be moved out of the Coliseum Annex so the building’s entire 4,100 square feet could be used for senior programs. The annex is a better location for a senior center and allows room for growth of programs, Dodds said.
“The Parks Committee believes that this community has many needs and that your current budgetary demands … are staggering,” Dodds told the council. “We empathize with your current situation.
“However we also believe that our community deserves and wants a better quality of life … ”
City Manager Bobby Rountree said maintaining an additional 67 acres with ball fields, restrooms, concession stands and playgrounds would have a recurring cost of $44,500 a year. That would include the costs of a laborer, electricity and supplies. There would be a one-time cost of $18,500 for a mower, Rountree said.
The current budget of $54,000 would pay for the maintenance and operation of a new pool. If a separate spray pool is built, three additional lifeguards, chemicals and electricity will cost $17,300.
If pool attendance increased 50 percent, there would be an additional $7,400 in revenue for the 2009-10 budget year, Rountree said.
Dodds said there would be no new costs for members of the 151 teams who participate in youth sports leagues.
Businessman Domingo Perez, who expressed several questions about the project at an earlier council meeting, said new facilities are needed. “Is this proposal the best way to do it? I personally do not think so,” Perez said.
Perez said would make better sense to spend less money on a new pool and repair and improve the existing facilities.