By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen Community Services Director Glenn Morrison laid out priorities for updating the city's parks master plan, for making changes to a drafted ordinance requiring developers to dedicate parkland and for building more skate park facilities.
Morrison told the Community Services Committee at its meeting Tuesday that the ordinance, which has been in the works since May, should be put on hold until the parks master plan is updated.
"It really read heavily neighborhood parks, and I think we fixed that with KISD," Morrison said.
In May, parks and recreation officials met to hear input on a drafted ordinance that would mandate housing developments in Killeen to give the city up to 15 acres of land or charge a fee for neighborhood parks.
It also called for a developer to give the city one acre per 100 residences in a plat. Besides protesting the idea of being required to give land to the city for parks, developers also argued that the ordinance contradicts itself and the city's master plan.
Morrison said he had a productive meeting with Killeen Independent School District officials and expects to reach an official agreement soon to build neighborhood parks adjacent to playgrounds when a new school is built.
"Funding remains the issue for us," Morrison said.
Colette Marshall, who represents a local developer, asked if the city could include a fee in the water bill to fund park development. Several other local developers at the meeting, including Steve Shepherd and JoAnn Purser, said they agreed with Marshall. Councilman Juan Rivera also concurred.
"We need to build something that the citizens can say, 'That's mine,'" Rivera said.
Deputy City Attorney Traci Briggs said she will research whether the city can legally impose a fee for parks.
"It's not something anybody in this room can say, 'Yes, we can do this,' right now," Briggs said.
Morrison also reviewed comments from developers at the meeting last month when the committee discussed potential parkland dedication. Developers asked the city to give them direction on where it wants or expects to see parks in the future. Morrison said that's where the master plan comes in.
"We're going to spend a great deal of time on that master plan," Morrison said.
Morrison said the Parks and Recreation Department will schedule meetings from public comments in each council member's district Oct. 15 through Nov. 2.
"This is the document that sets forth the next three to five years and beyond," Morrison said.
He said a master plan helps the city when applying for grants. Morrison said he hopes to have the master plan updated by early spring 2008 to apply for grants in July 2008.
Morrison also told the committee to expect the skate spot at Conder Park to be bigger soon. He said in addition to $20,000 in the budget for park equipment, the city has $45,000 from the past two years of the annual golf tournament sponsored by Mickey's for park improvements. Morrison said much of that money will be used to expand the current skate park.
"I think it's going to take care of the issue for a while," Morrison said.
Local skaters asked the Killeen City Council during the budget process to allocate money for a new skate park. In August, the council turned down a request to build a skate park.
Mark Francis, owner of Sk8er SHacK, said the skate park at Conder Park is not large enough to meet the demand of the number of skaters in the Killeen area. Council members said they support the idea of a skate park in the Parks and Recreation Department's master plan, but finding an additional $600,000 to $800,000 for such a project that late in the budget process was unfeasible.
Morrison said the Parks and Recreation Department will research to find out what equipment is needed.
"We'll bring out some of the catalogs and say, 'What do you need?'" Morrison said. "I think you will see improvements out there by Christmastime."
In other business, the committee also discussed twilight fees at the city's Stonetree Golf Course. Rivera complained that Killeen's twilight fee starts later in the day than most area courses and is still more expensive. He asked the twilight fee time to start earlier so the golf course could be competitive.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550