The Parker Town Council has tabled a proposal to cancel the lease with the Colorado River Indian Tribes for City Park. At the Aug. 17 Council meeting, Members said the Town does not have enough other facilities for youth sports. The Council agreed to discuss the matter further at a work session at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, before their regular council meeting.
City Park is located in the southwest corner of the town, and consists of ballfields, basketball, tennis and handball courts, and a skate park. Public Works Director Steve Ziegler said it costs the Town about $70,000 per year to operate and maintain the park. He added the park is in need of substantial repairs and needs to be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He estimated the cost of these repairs and renovations at close to $1 million.
“In addition, the park is vandalized on a regular basis, which makes it more difficult for my staff to maintain,” Ziegler said.
This is the second time this year the Council has discussed terminating the lease for the park. The first time was on May 4. A major difference between then and now is the proposal to terminate the lease is no longer tied to providing funds to operate a pool. Mayor Karen Bonds said these issues are now separate.
“We are not terminating the park lease so we can have a pool,” she said. “We have money for a pool. That was the wrong approach last time.”
Ziegler proposed the money currently be spent on City Park be put in a Parks Improvement Fund. He said new athletic facilities and other amenities at Western Park, Pop Harvey Park and Main Street Park. He noted how the Public Works Department and the Parks & Recreation Committee had focused on making improvements to these parks over the last eight years. While some of these improvements have been paid for by organizations like Poston Rotary, most of them have been paid for by the Town’s general fund.
As an example of improvements to the parks, Ziegler suggested having the skate park at Main Street Park. He noted they already have a parking lot and water there. The skate park would be highly visible there.
“That would be a great opportunity to have people visit here,” he said.
With the space at Western Park, Ziegler said there was plenty the town could do there. He described it as being almost a “blank canvas.”
As for vandalism, Police Chief Mike Bailey said there is a large amount of vandalism at City Park.
“All the parks have some vandalism, but City Park is the worst, he said.
Council Member David Lucas said the problem with terminating the lease was the Town does not have any other adequate facilities for youth sports at this time.
“Within a year, we could build up those facilities,” he said. “We’re not there yet.”
“I hate to see a park go away,” Council Member Rey De Leon said to Ziegler. “I would like to see us more ahead in your vision.”
Council Member Frank Savino, a former public works director, urged Ziegler to look for grants and other funding.
Bonds said the Council needed to find a “happy medium” with this.
When asked if he had contacted CRIT about terminating the lease, Ziegler said he hadn’t. He added he couldn’t see them closing down the park to the groups that now use it.
“The maintenance will come from CRIT, not the Town of Parker,” he said.
Bonds said it would be a courtesy to bring the Tribes on board. She said this would be a budget issue for them.
Bonds said this was a matter the Council needed to look at, but they also needed to discuss ideas and their options before making any decision regarding the lease.
“We can’t put this on the back burner,” she said. “We have to keep this going. We need to discuss what we need to do.”
The work session was set for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7. This will be before the Council’s regular meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Town of Parker has leased City Park since 1967. The lease was last renewed in 2018.