Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Take advantage of opportunity to expand

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Dec. 12, 2012 at 6:12 a.m.

Riverside Park is an important part of the city of Victoria. The 565-acre spread contains a 27-hole golf course, the Texas Zoo, a rose garden, multiple playgrounds, a duck pond, baseball fields, Riverside Stadium, an 18-hole disc golf course, picnic tables complete with outdoor grills and more.

We are pleased that the city provides and maintains such an extensive community resource. Parks are important facilities that contribute to the quality of life in a city, and Victoria has a major contribution in Riverside Park.

Because the park is such a flourishing, important part of our community, we were glad the city chose to buy a nearly 22-acre lot, including the Riverside Convention Center, off of Red River Street to expand the park. The purchase was a foreclosure sale from the Texas Dow Employees Credit Union, for which the council approved a budget amendment of $530,000, which covered the $520,000 price of the land as well as $10,000 in closing costs.

While the price may sound expensive, City Councilman Paul Polasek said the city can afford the cost, since the city sold a 4-acre lot off Huvar Street earlier in the year for more than $600,000. And the timing of this purchase fits in well with the city's current improvements to Red River Street leading into the park, which runs right in front of the newly-purchased property.

Polasek and City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said the city was told it was not the only party looking at the property. Karen Leita, the TDECU real estate agent who handled the sale, confirmed at least one industrial company was among the parties looking at the property. Because Victoria has no zoning laws that would prohibit a company from placing a storage facility or laydown yard next to a city park, the city chose to buy the property rather than risk the property becoming the site of a potential eyesore next to Riverside Park.

We think this was a good decision on the part of the city council. We support business growth in Victoria, but we also want to protect the environment and quality of the area around Riverside Park. A park should be a safe, beautiful place for the community to enjoy the outdoors. Allowing the equivalent of an industrial junkyard to be placed next to the park is not only an eyesore but also a safety hazard and would give a negative impression to visitors using the main entrance to the park.

While there is not an official plan for the lot as of now, Polasek says there have been some ideas. One possibility involved taking down the old convention center building and using the concrete slab to build a covered pavilion. Whatever the land's specific purpose will be, we are glad to have this addition to our parks system and look forward to seeing how it will be used to improve the quality of life in Victoria.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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