Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain told Smith Middle School sixth-grader Drake Espinoza that he hopes to cut the ribbon on a Cleburne skate park in the near future and plans to invite Espinoza to participate in the ceremony if and when it becomes a reality.
For now the idea of a skate park remains just that, but Espinoza and fellow Cleburne student Colton Hutto made their cases during Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting on how they believe such a park could benefit Cleburne.
For now, Espinoza said, he’s stuck skateboarding in his driveway, which isn’t very big.
“I started to research our town to see if there’s a safer place but sadly there is not,” Espinoza said. “We drove all around Cleburne and saw many skateboarders in church and school parking lots and even the mall parking. I started to think about what I could do to change this and wondered if maybe there were other people who felt the same way.”
Late last month, Espinoza visited change.org where he started a petition calling for a Cleburne skateboard park.
“I thought I would only get about 30 signatures,” Espinoza said. “But, up to date, there have been 1,170 people who have signed and agree that there needs to be a safer place for us to skate. I’m blown away by the supporters I have received.”
Espinoza suggested Hulen Park as the optimal choice given the parks variety of playgrounds, basketball courts and Splash Station.
“It could be a one-stop place for families who want to enjoy separate activities.” Espinoza said but added anywhere would work so long as the park is safe, open to all and free of bullying and graffiti.
Hutto told council members that just as the recently completed new high school provides pride in the community among other attributes so too could a city skate park.
Any decisions as to whether or not to build a skate park remain to be made. A city master plan park study remains ongoing, however, and city staff and council will begin budget talks in the next few months for the next fiscal year. Council members, though they delivered no firm answer Tuesday night, appeared open to the idea of a skate park at least.
“I thank you for taking time to talk to me and share your story personally,” Mayor Scott Cain told Espinoza. “I share your love of skateboarding and, until just a few years ago, continued to ride a long board. I even did that in one of our past Christmas parades.
“But I want to encourage you, your friends and family over the coming months to weigh in as we look at our comprehensive master plan and updating our parks. That’s going to be not just for the next few years but over the next several decades. So we need a lot of feedback from the community on what they want in the way of parks.”
Cain once again thanked Espinoza and Hutto for taking the time to visit with council and said it’s exciting to see students become involved with government.
“They are our future,” Cain said.
Parks and trains
Council members approved a number of equipment purchases and upgrades for city parks, all of which were budgeted for in the current fiscal year.
Council approved purchase of a new infield groomer from Precise Machinery at a cost not to exceed $32,892 for use at the Cleburne Youth Sports Complex, Don Moore Park and Carver Park. Council also approved purchase of an aerovator for the Sports Complex from Austin Turf & Tractor for a cost not to exceed $12,334.
Other items approved include new batting cages, Splash Station upgrades and other equipment.
Council members approved hiring Railway Service Inc. to refurbish Engine 3417, also known as the Spirit of Cleburne, at Hulen Park at a cost not to exceed $41,883.
The engine, which has provided a focal point of the park and source of city pride since the 1950s is weather faded and in need of a spruce up, Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Dobson said.
“This project calls for sanding all surface areas, removing rust and collecting all materials for disposal,” Dobson said. “It also includes applying an epoxy paint that was developed for transportation bridge coating that holds up in all types of weather. Historically accurate lettering font will be added to the locomotive.”
Last year marked the engine’s 100th anniversary an occasion that resulted in a celebration in the park organized by officials from the Cleburne Railroad Museum and others.
“I’m looking forward to giving the old gal a fresh coat of paint,” Cain said. “It’s long overdue.”
The Cleburne Railroad Museum Group, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, continue to accept donations to purchase new fencing and improve landscaping around the engine.
Cleburne Personnel Director Debra Powledge joined Cain in presenting the city’s STARS Award to Cleburne Municipal Airport employee Charles Collier. The award, which involves a nomination process, goes to employees who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Powledge noted that Collier has only been with the city about six months.
Collier was picking trash up near the airport on a cold day, Powledge said, when he came upon a car with a family and small children inside. He helped them with their car, gave them a ride home and gave them money to help them through, Powledge said.