About 45 people gathered Tuesday night for the last of five community meetings to collect input on how to spend $7.4 million dedicated for improvements at six city parks.
The meeting, hosted by District 1 Councilman Ed Moore at the Pine Tree ISD Community Center, focused on changes at McWhorter Park on Toler Road and West Loop 281.
The proposed upgrades would cost $956,975, Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron said, and would mean two new baseball scoreboards, new baseball lighting, parking improvements, a new basketball court, a sand volleyball court, fencing, play equipment for younger children and older children in separate areas and entry enhancements.
Improvements are planned at Lois Jackson, Spring Creek, Patterson, Stamper and McWhorter parks and Womack Field, and feedback from residents will be used, along with studies, engineering and surveying, to put together a final plan of improvements. The parks were identified for upgrades in the $24.71 million parks bond proposition that Longview voters approved in November.
Those attending the meeting Tuesday were urged to fill out a survey about the park and suggest other improvements or changes they would like the city to review.
Caron said construction is expected to begin by next summer.
“We want to get buy-in from our community,” Caron said. “We’re on the right track, but if we’re not, we want them to share that information with us so we can implement the issues and the ideas and the thoughts they have so we can address them the best we can.”
Some community members expressed concerns about the park. One woman specifically mentioned the bathrooms in the park.
She said the toilet paper and soap are changed, but that is about it, and the restrooms are not clean.
Steve and Jena Mercer attended the meeting because they said they want Longview to get a bicycle motocross park.
Their son competes in BMX racing, they said, and the closest place for him to practice is Shreveport.
Steve Mercer said a BMX park would be beneficial to the community because any age can do it.
Jena Mercer mentioned more benefits.
“We’re just trying to get a track closer to home and more kids involved in BMX,” she said. “USA BMX gives out scholarships for college. There’s just so much you can do with this, and we want to get more kids involved. Being closer to here would help.”
For the city to change a proposed plan, Caron said it would take a majority of people in survey responses wanting a particular change, and the city would have to decide if it would fit in the budget.