Parks, recreation, and beautification are three words that, though clearly intertwined, can easily branch off into a variety of tangents that can be difficult for one committee to cover. South Padre Island Parks, Recreation, and Beautification Committee Jodi Hughes recently questioned the focus of the committee and brought the issue up for discussion at Wednesday morning’s monthly meeting.
JoAnn Evan’s, who recently stepped down from her eight-year run with City Council, came to the meeting to share her perspective on the original mission of the committee and where the focus should lie. She shed light on two important issues that were the reasons for the creation of the committee – the first being quality of life for the community, including residents as well as visitors. According to her, the second and more important issue regarded the planning, maintaining, and upgrading of parks. Although the beach is considered a popular park, it does not meet all the needs of residents, and Evans said, “Any good city has a good park system.” It is an environmental issue and the city needs to preserve green space.
When the committee was formed, Evans personally recruited members – about half of whom were committed to parks while the other half had an interest in recreation. The committee developed many great events, but over time, recreation became the primary focus. Evans said, “I hope, as a citizen here, that you will not lose sight of the parks.” She shared her concerns that it’s not only a present issue but that it is important for the future.
She added, “You are one of the committees that have the responsibility of being stewards of the land.” \
Chairman Hughes placed an item on the agenda because she felt that the committee had recently been asked to do a variety of things, including events that other groups have historically done.
Mayor Barry Patel echoed Evans, stressing the importance of parks to South Padre Island. He encouraged the committee to focus on three specific issues; including the development of the city park next to Travelodge, working with Cameron County to capitalize on the county parks that are already in place and the beautification of Padre Blvd.
The committee did not take any action to change the current resolution but was content with gaining perspective on the focus of the group and the issues at hand.
In an effort to promote beautification, the committee approved the commencement of a Yard of the Month program on the Island. They had previously discussed ideas for the program and made a goal to select the first winner at the beginning of the new year. The program will focus on beautification of yards, specifically what can be seen from the streets. The council approved the program with some minor revisions to what had been discussed. They wanted to discourage use of lighting and toxins that could pose environmental threats. The committee will start with one winner and is hoping for ample participation. Nominations will be accepted in December with the first winner announced in January.
Next up for the Parks, Recreation, and Beautification Committee are the upcoming holiday events including Breakfast with Santa, the Lighting of the Tree Ceremony, and the Christmas Parade. Their next is scheduled for Dec. 17 but will likely be moved to Dec. 10 this depending on availability of City Hall.
Abbey Kunkle