Victoria council OKs spending $530,000 to buy land to expand Riverside Park

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.
Updated Dec. 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.

A more than half-million-dollar expansion at Riverside Park is expected to be final by mid-December.

Victoria City Council unanimously approved the $530,000 purchase during a special meeting Friday lasting just under five minutes with no public attendance.

Mayor Will Armstrong said major cities like New York and London are "defined by their parks."

"There's always a question when we spend taxpayer money," Armstrong said. "I'm under the opinion, and I think most of the council would agree with me, when we make a purchase of this nature, it's not for us. It's not for our children. This is park land. It's for our grandchildren. We're looking for our future."

The nearly 22-acre lot fronting Red River Street includes the facility commonly known as Riverside Convention Center, 1407 W. Red River St.

City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said he would deliver the contract to the seller before 5 p.m. Friday.

The price tag includes the closing costs with the seller, Texas Dow Employees Credit Union, he said.

As of yet, there is no clear indication what the city intends to do with the land.

Although Councilman Paul Polasek would not elaborate on any visions he has for the expansion, he said, "It has a lot of potential uses because it is adjacent to the park."

Councilman Tom Halepaska said he anticipates some repairs to the facility on the property.

"The whole list of repairs seems to be relatively light," he said.

Halepaska said the city had the building inspected before making the purchase Friday.

It will need some gutterwork, air conditioning repairs, sheet metal repairs and some roof patching, he said.

In exchange for taking that property off the tax rolls, he said Victoria will benefit from the sale of two city-owned properties on Del Norte and Huvar streets.

By the time the new hotel on Huvar Street is open and the sale at Del Norte is finalized, the tax rolls will "see a significant difference," Halepaska said.



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