The Navasota City Council and Parks & Recreation Board met in a Special Joint Meeting Monday, March 27, for a workshop focused on park land and recreation opportunities for Navasota.
In attendance was Navasota’s new Parks & Recreation Manager, Ryan Hendricks, a San Antonio native and former physical education teacher, founder of San Antonio Roundnet, also known as Spikeball, and volunteer with San Antonio Sports.
Cleveland Park DFZ?
City Manager Jason Weeks sought input related to the Navasota Kiwanis Club’s offer to convey the tracts of land at 500 and 504 Cleveland Street to the City for a park. This location was the former meeting place of the local Boy Scout troop and contained a pavilion, restrooms, basketball court, a swing and a picnic table. According to Weeks, the pavilion was demolished in October 2022 because of criminal activity, and due to parents’ safety concerns, the Boy Scouts meet at the Navasota Center.
Weeks suggested if there is interest in maintaining the property as a park, council consider adding additional playground equipment and designating the park a drug free zone (DFZ). DFZs are usually located within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center but state statute allows playgrounds if they’re intended for recreation, are open to the public and contain three or more separate pieces of playground equipment intended for children.
Weeks added that punishment for drug possession in a DFZ is enhanced. For example, possession of cocaine of more than 1 ounce but less than 4 ounces is a third degree felony but becomes a second degree felony in a DFZ, and no time is given for good behavior during the first five years of incarceration.
Regarding acquisition of playground equipment, Parks & Rec Chairman B.J. Moody suggested the Evening Lions Club may be able to help.
St. Paul’s proposes park
Also discussed was St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s suggestion of a long-term/20+ year lease agreement with the City to develop an open space park on the vacant area of church property at McAlpine and Nolan Street. The church’s vision is that of a “contemplative” setting and a space for activities like yoga and artist events. A conditional use permit will be required since the lot is zoned residential.
The City would be responsible for mowing, tree trimming, making the sidewalk ADA compliant and installing benches and tables. Weeks advised of discussions with the local Boy Scouts about bench and table construction as Eagle Scout projects and with local gardening clubs for landscaping and flower garden maintenance.
Councilman Josh Fultz concurred with Moody who thought current park projects should be addressed first before taking on a new park.
Economic Development Director Rayna Teicheira updated council on efforts to launch a citywide wayfinding project and provided a PowerPoint presentation of signage designed by National Signs, LLC, at no charge to the City.
National Signs, LLC, contracts with the Choice Partners Cooperative through the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) which meets government purchasing requirements and will allow the City to expedite the procurement process. To move forward, council would need to approve an interlocal agreement with HCDE. (See Consent Agenda item, page 1).
According to Teicheira, Phase 1 of the three-phase project emphasizes tourism and includes highway directional signs, large double-sided park signs, a Downtown Railroad District monument sign, downtown parking and streets signs, digital illuminated kiosk at the downtown Visitor Center and a Visit Navasota sign for $248,035.
Phase 2 (fiscal year 2023-24) focuses on inner-city directional signage and includes disc golf signs, and a digital illuminated kiosk at Cedar Creek/Mance Lipscomb Park for $256,670.
Phase 3 (fiscal year 2024-25) would emphasize placemaking which includes small park monument signs, large single-sided park signs, citywide parking signs (except downtown) and a second Downtown Railroad District monument sign at $110,325
Council discussion included the necessity of signs in this digital age, the varying sign designs and the consensus that a different design was needed at Oakland Cemetery.
Weeks said, “The idea is to be cohesive throughout the city.”
Cedar Creek expansion
Weeks introduced the multiphase Cedar Creek/Mance Lipscomb Park & Trail Project and potential funding mechanisms. KTL Engineering’s plan would add parking on the south side and extend the walking trail from one side of the creek to the other via the old railroad track pedestrian bridge. A train-themed park and/or splash pad is a vision on the Brookshire Brothers/north side of Cedar Creek. Responding to council member Pattie Pederson’s suggestion of a “Park for All,” Marketing & Communications Coordinator Bobbie Ullrich advised the park will have ADA features.
Phase 1 focuses on the parking lot, pedestrian bridge and utility extension for lighting. Phase 2 consists of the trail system and the train trestle conversion over Cedar Creek, both at a cost of $216,000.
Phases 3 and 4 include the park and/or splash pad and extending the trail system east to Brosig Avenue.
The five potential funding mechanisms come from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Downtown and several nonprofits. Amounts available range from $750,000 to $5,000 with City matches from 50% to zero.
Weeks requested feedback about increasing the size of the Navasota Center Skate Park and adding features since Navasota ISD has provided additional land. Activities at the Navasota Center haven’t been forgotten and will be addressed.
Regarding Pickleball, Weeks advised NISD is putting in Pickleball lines on the courts at their tennis complex. The city will work with NISD to provide community Pickleball on Stacey Street with four to eight courts.
Weeks plans to take the feedback and work it into the upcoming budget discussions.
Speaking for the Parks & Rec Board, Moody said, “We’d like to see the projects that we started get finished first.”