More than 30 residents came to Stamper Park Resource Center on Tuesday with a lot to say to the dozen or so Longview municipal staff and consultants about their neighborhood park and sports fields.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department held the meeting to solicit neighborhood input about $1.7 million in proposed improvements to Stamper Park and Womack Field.
Improvements also are planned at Lois Jackson, Spring Creek, Patterson and McWhorter parks, 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.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second of five planned in the next month to gather input from residents.
The city wants to install a walking trail, replace one pavilion and build another pavilion, upgrade the playgrounds and improve the basketball courts at Stamper Park.
Meanwhile at Womack Field, the city has suggested a new entry booth with a ticket booth and concession stand while also replacing fencing at the site, abandoning a portion of Molton Street, reconfiguring the sports fields, adding bleachers and improving parking.
Several residents said they want the city to build new restroom facilities, even at the expense of some of the proposed amenities.
“At least they could give us a few more restrooms over there, because all of those kids are over there playing ball during the fall,” said area resident Barbara Scott.
Resident Bridget Jones is a mother of two daughters, ages 16 and 12, and a 7-year-old son who plays youth football at Womack Field.
She would rather have more restrooms than a walking trail, she said.
“The bathrooms are horrible. There’s stuff on the floor,” Jones said. “This is way overdue.”
Cliff Carpenter, a longtime supporter of the Longview Football League, said the city planned to spend too much on parking and a new pavilion — which account for more than $800,000 of the total $1.7 million — and not enough on restrooms.
Scott also asked that any new playground equipment come with a permanent cover to protect children from the heat.
“Protect those babies because their skin is tender,” Scott said adding, “Put some stuff out there that’s going to inspire families to come.”
District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy opened Tuesday’s meeting, and she also told residents that the fire training equipment, including old rail cars that for years have been at Stamper Park, will be removed, though the fire tower might be among the last items taken from the park.
Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron asked each person at the neighborhood meeting to fill out a survey that tells staff what they would like to see at Stamper Park and Womack Field.
Jones said she appreciated the city reaching out to get residents’ input, but it’s important that staff follows through on the suggestions.
“I’m glad that they gave us an option to come and have a voice in this,” Jones said. “Just make sure that what we’re filling out on the survey is what’s actually going to happen.”