Economic conditions and a tight city budget have affected the Cleburne Parks Department just as they’ve affected other city departments, Public Development Services Director Jody Butler told council members during a recent update on the department.
Several projects remain on a wish list, to be undertaken as time and finances allow while several have been completed or remain in progress, Butler said.
Mayor Scott Cain commended the city’s park workers for doing a good job under financial and staffing constraints.
The employees, five full time and one part time, maintain about 415 acres of city property, Butler said. In addition to the city’s several parks, some of those areas include the Booker T. Washington Recreational and Community Center, the Cleburne Conference Center, Cletran offices and several street medians.
“We’d like to add more employees,” Butler said. “But, right now, the budget hurts us in that respect.”
Nonetheless, parks workers stay busy, Butler said.
Projects completed or under way include updating or repairing lighting at Carver and Hulen parks and replacing the pea gravel in all the park playground areas with engineered wood fiber. Workers replaced or repaired several concrete picnic tables and benches incorporating treated lumber to increase durability and cut costs.
Partnerships are being created between the city and Cleburne ISD and other groups to encourage projects and usage of Winston Patrick McGregor Park, Parks Supervisor Burton Barr said.
“The city horticulturist, Grace Clanton, works with the schools on a lot of those projects,” Barr said. “The students work on projects such as creating areas representing the different ecological regions of the state. We also have several home-school groups who do different projects out there and several other volunteer-based groups.”
Such partnerships play into the goal of the park, he said, which was donated to the city several years ago. The plan, Butler and other city officials have said, is for McGregor Park to be an ever-evolving place of both quiet solitude and an ongoing area of botanical research and development.