ANGLETON — Plans to build a new recreation spot in the city are proving to be anything but a walk in the park.
City Manager Scott Albert raised concerns with City Council during its meeting last week that not everyone was on the same page with the design plans for Lakeside Park and the projected cost.
“I feel hesitant to move forward with the contract when I have individuals that have concerns over the $610,000 design plans,” Albert said. “So I’m wanting to bring things forward now.”
The planned 42-acre park with fishing piers, a kayak launch and nature center is slated to be the gem of Brazoria County, Mayor Jason Perez said during a previous meeting.
The park is a joint project between the city and the Angleton Better Living Corp. Those two entities met to determine the necessity of everything on the planned list, Albert said.
“Historically, what has happened is if there was a new recreation center, a new baseball center, whatever it was, the city came to ABLC,” board member Charlyn Rogers told the council. “With that historical perspective, how much is ABLC paying for and how much is the city paying for? There was a slight disconnect on communication; that’s when we started saying, ‘How much can we fund?’”
Mayor Pro Tem John Wright wondered whether some of the money proposed for Lakeside should be spent on improvements for other parks not currently funded.
“I think it’s great we’re having this meeting and coming to an understanding of how this will be funded,” Wright said.
Angleton Better Living Corp. representatives said adding a proposed nature center to Lakeside Park would create potential revenue hardships and might not see the payoff needed to fund it. Its members had questions about what the nature center would actually be and whether it would be indoors, a pavilion or some other type of enclosed structure.
The structural type makes the difference in cost, Rogers said.
“Part of it is, we knew what happened when we made an indoor recreation center … You create something indoors and you’ve got another one of those,” Rogers said. “The amount of money that comes through the vehicle of ABLC is now being taken up by the recreation center, and now with projects like this … let’s get together so there’s not any miscommunication about what the intent is.”
Rogers said the recreation center in Angleton costs ABLC hundreds of thousands of dollars each year just to meet a zero balance because of the way its funding is structured and how residents are charged.
“If you’re doing it right, I can see how there’s a revenue stream to help pay for (the nature center),” Wright said. “If you’re renting it out regularly … the smaller we go with this, the less likely we’d get people from out of town. I’d like to see what the rest of the parks need first. I want to get the right amount of dollar service out of what we’re putting in.”
Albert said the city should go back and discuss what is wanted from Lakeside Park, including whether it has an enclosed nature center.
“We started talking about the building being used for meetings and events,” Albert said. “Really, what we need to do is get some sort of confirmation of what do you really want? You’re not going to have final design costs until you do the design.”
Councilman Cody Vasut suggested saving money on the actual park layout by moving its entrance and avoiding having to pour additional concrete, saving the city from $400,000 to 800,000 of the projected $5 million park construction costs.
“We have to make a decision that utilizes the revenue in the most fiscally responsible manner,” Vasut said. “To me, where I land after all this, is that part needs to be rotated, we should study doing the nature center as an open-air building and a closed building with air conditioning.
“That’s kind of where I land. I want to make sure that every kid across this community has access to these parks and an equal opportunity. I hope we can find a way to do both.”
Council is scheduled to receive a design draft later this month. In the meantime, city and Angleton Better Living representatives will go back and discuss what is wanted, Albert said.