A classic country song suggests the secret to survival is knowing which cards to throw away and which to keep. We agree with those well-known lyrics that understanding when to walk away is important, and suggest it is past time for Longview to get rid of the losing hand it was dealt on Hinsley Park.
The city has been betting on those cards for too long.
When voters in 2015 approved a plan to remove the park designation from Hinsley Park in Northeast Longview, they did so with the promise from developers that work would begin immediately to replace it with a destination shopping center at the 38-acre site. Also to be built was a replacement park nearby that would be home to improved baseball fields, a new disc golf course and other amenities.
None of that has happened. Not a single spadeful of dirt has been turned.
Developers and city officials have offered plenty of excuses for inaction: the federal government, difficulty with the proposed anchor tenant, the economy, even the weather.
Recently, we learned the out-of-town developer has told city officials a new anchor tenant is about to sign and the project will soon be moving forward. Disappointingly, it appears city staff and at least one City Council member believe the tale.
Sorry, but we are not buying the latest bluff. We say call that bet and let us see the developer’s cards or tell him to step aside to make room at the table for a new player.
That we and city officials have been fooled so long is bad enough, but now we are hearing from regular users of the park that conditions there have been allowed to deteriorate as this redevelopment plan has been allowed for so long to linger. That and uncertainty over the park’s future also are said to be cutting into participation in recreational leagues.
Whether with the current developer or a new one, we hope the city has learned that no such arrangement should be entered without a timeline.
The lack of a schedule regarding Hinsley Park has left room for an indefinite slide that has allowed the project to hang on for years. If some progress had been required, we could have been free of this weight long ago.
The city should demand proof of action and set a timeline, or cut ties and move on.
If redevelopment by private developers is not in the cards, Longview must begin planning to improve Hinsley Park, repairing safety issues identified several years ago and modernizing it to keep it a vital part of our city’s parks system.
It is time to make Hinsley Park better instead of following this losing proposition further down the drain. As the old gambler said, you’ve got to know when to fold ‘em.