Public weighs in of future of park upgrades

  • MORE IDEAS

  • • Reopen Grover's Bend

    • Statues throughout the park

    • Market Riverside Stadium for period baseball films

    • Improve the Horseman's Club Arena

    • Install fire pits and campsites at Fox's Bend

    • Install distance markers along walking trails

    • Install stations for pet waste bags

    • Expand ...

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  • MORE IDEAS

    • Reopen Grover's Bend

    • Statues throughout the park

    • Market Riverside Stadium for period baseball films

    • Improve the Horseman's Club Arena

    • Install fire pits and campsites at Fox's Bend

    • Install distance markers along walking trails

    • Install stations for pet waste bags

    • Expand the nature trail

    • Require permits to have a picnic

    • Install speed bumps and double speeding fines

    • Create a community center at the convention building for games, activities, art classes, sports and fitness and rentals for the park

    • Install benches along the nature trail

    • Clean ditch at the west outfall on Stayton Street

With a yarn-bound book of letters and drawings, Sandra Davis took Monday's parks commission meeting as a teachable moment.

Davis, one of more than 20 Victoria residents voicing suggestions and ideas to improve Riverside Park at a public hearing Monday, passed along ideas from her students at Shields Elementary School: water park, dog trails, a rodeo arena for the young ropers and paddle boats along the river.

Victoria Parks and Recreation Commissioners hosted a public hearing Monday at city hall hoping to learn more of what residents want in the city's largest park.

Many speakers echoed the students' wishes, as well as their own ideas to clear brush along the Guadalupe River, improve bathroom facilities and renovate the duck pond.

While Sharon Steen, a former parks commissioner, said she wants to see a water park near the children's playground, she envisions the park being a draw for tourists.

She mentioned ways to increase tourism, not only by creating an exhibit for the burial grounds at the Tonkawa Bank but also by improving the views of the Guadalupe River.

"It is a sin to have a river running through your town when you can't even see it," she said.

After the meeting, Parks Commissioner Matt Wickham said the suggestions were appreciated.

"To me, I am a big supporter of improving the facilities we have," Wickham said. "We've had discussions about the value of improving what we have. Three quarters of the things discussed here were improvements to existing facilities."

He said the meeting left him feeling encouraged.

"We've got to get to that balance of development and preservation," he said.

For many of the speakers and commissioners, the park holds special memories of growing up and finding an escape from the bustle of the city by way of the walking trails, bird watching areas or just watching the water roll by at the river.

Gail Repka, a kayaking enthusiast, said she wants to see more viewing sites and access points along the river.

"I feel at home at Riverside Park," she said. "...When I grew up, I lived at Fox's Bend - barbecues, picnics, bonfires - that was the place to be."

She also urged the commission to install signs against littering - "only leave footprints" or "if you pack it in, pack it out."

Although several speakers mentioned improving the views of the river, Sarah Clarke, a Victoria resident, said she enjoys the park for its trees.

"I love the trees, and I love beating my own path," she said. "With expanding, I'm up close to the river; that's all I have right now of all the trees. ... Don't get heavy handed."