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Port Lavaca recreation additions part of bigger plan

By Dianna Wray
March 14, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2013 at 10:14 p.m.

Wilson Field is overgrown and neglected, but there are plans in the works to develop the field. "We envision two more fields, which will give us the equivalent of three large ball fields, accommodating softball or hardball and T-ball," the city manager says.

Port Lavaca City Manager Bob Turner is overseeing the expansion of the public recreation areas in the city, starting with Wilson Field and Bayfront Park.

He recently sat down to talk about the work.

Why are you focusing on adding public recreation areas to Port Lavaca?

It's one of those chicken and the egg things: Do we need more housing or do we need more things for people to do? You can look at it both ways. You can make the argument that if there's more housing, there will be more people, and with that money, you can build the amenities. I think of it a little differently. I think if we have amenities, it will be a reason for people to want to move into your town - most especially children. If we don't begin to give children things to do, a reason for families to move here, then we're at a loss anyway, and there's no reason to think of housing improvements.

What changes are you making to Wilson Field and Bayfront Park?

On Wilson Field, we sent out a survey, and we asked citizens, 'What do you want? What do you want to see here?' We got some suggestions back like a skate park. What we have currently is two existing ball fields. We envision two more fields, which will give us the equivalent of three large ball fields, accommodating softball or hardball and T-ball. There will also be two soccer fields, a basketball court, cabanas and a walking trail that will have connectivity through the trail system all the way through town to the waterfront.

With Bayfront Park, we had this big slab of concrete, and we thought, 'So, what if we covered it?' And suddenly, we now have some place for people to go during inclement weather and still continue their activities. It looks like a football field when we cover it. This became huge, and it has drawn more positive comments than anything else I've done since I came here. They're talking about having concerts, and I am envisioning these wonderful concerts down here, and people can set up there or at the cabanas and the grills.

What kinds of things are you hoping to attract by these additions to Wilson Field?

I put lights in before I did anything else because if I did all of this first, now what? Now, I've got a field ready to play, and I can't accommodate it. The only way you can have a softball tournament play on the weekends is to play all night long. They come in on a Friday, and you bring anywhere from a D to an A tournament in, and they will pack Port Lavaca - ready to eat, stay over and spend money. The families follow the tournaments, and then, while they're here, they'll look around and say, 'Hey, we just came here for this. I didn't even know you had those soccer fields.' There's not a soccer field in Port Lavaca right now.

Why are these kinds of improvements important to what you're trying to do for Port Lavaca?

The more opportunities you have to congregate people, the better it is for your city. I can envision Bayfront Park being packed at the same time Wilson Field and Lighthouse Beach are packed. In Port Lavaca, it will be really nice to have more than one thing to do in town, and it's a chance to get people to congregate and all be in one place.

This is all part of a much bigger master plan for Port Lavaca. I'm looking at a little Kemah.

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