Citizens came up with 18 suggestions for Oakdale Park at a town hall meeting Monday night and their No. 1 desire was to preserve the original part of the park.
The new manager of Oakdale Park, Gary Ivy, last month presented to the Glen Rose City Council his proposed “action plan” for Oakdale that stressed preserving the park’s nostalgic look and improving roads, utilities and fixing the leaking pool.
On Monday night it was citizens’ turn to help craft a vision for the park. About 25 people turned out for the meeting at Town Hall. Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Martin presided.
Ivy reiterated his view that Oakdale first and foremost needs an agreed-upon vision.
“Without a vision, any road will get you there,” Ivy said. “However, you may not like where you end up.”
Ivy said his vision for Oakdale was a “place of relaxation where the community and visitors can gather and socialize and where the rich heritage and original look of the park is preserved while improving functionality of the facilities.”
He said he also wanted to see the park “designed and operated in a manner that will result in maximum enjoyment with a minimum financial impact” to taxpayers.
The purpose of Monday night’s meeting was to “gather your input to create the final version of the vision,” as Ivy put it.
He first gave a summary of what he’s done since he took the Oakdale job a month ago. Repairing the pool remains a time-critical priority if the pool is to reopen Memorial Day weekend. The City of Glen Rose has been advertising for bids and two companies have responded, Ivy said.
One approach is to do an overlay inside the existing pool. The other is to take out the sides and edges and have rock work done to increase the pool’s depth.
City workers also have been removing refuse and a cottage called the Cave, which had caught fire in the past and was leaning, has been straightened up. Updating the restrooms and bathhouses also are badly needed, Ivy said.
Ivy added that he’s been working with city crews to lay out the RV spaces and plan for utilities. The 140 spaces at the back of the park along College Street have been cut down to 67, in addition to 46 at the front of the park near the entrance.
“As we restore Oakdale Park, demand will go up,” Ivy predicted. “I don’t think we’ll have enough spaces.” But the ones it will have will work.
Luis Cossio, a member of the city’s Preservation Board, told Ivy his residence on Barnard Street backs up to the tent camping area and that campers sometimes build fires that are unattended all night and create noise that disturbs residents.
Ivy responded that one solution could be to plant fast-growing shrubs to create a buffer. He told Cossio that he would work with him to help relieve the problem.
To keep repetition and long-windedness to a minimum, Ivy suggested a brainstorming session about Oakdale, inviting citizens to suggest ideas for the parkand then voting on them. As members of the audience made suggestions, they were written on two paper pads mounted on easels so the crowd could see them. Ivy said no ideas were too “out there” and asked audience members not to evaluate or comment on them until voting time.
Dennis Moore, who has served on the Planning and Zoning Board, suggested that there needed to be a buffer zone between the RV spaces and residents.
Darrell Best, chairman of the Somervell County/Glen Rose Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the city’s Glen Rose 4B Economic Development Corp., recommended the city adopt Ivy’s plan for the old part of Oakdale park, but bring in a park planner to devise a scenario for the six adjacent acres. He also wanted to see the stage expanded to make it a more spacious open-air theater.
Veterinarian and GREDC board member Mike Jones wanted to see a modern community recreation center on the new part of Oakdale, with indoor courts and a gymnasium, as well an evaluation on how best to fix the pool and a cost analysis.
Downtown merchant Audrey Caylor suggested a visitor center in the park store with a kiosk or room with information about Glen Rose attractions and a detailed city map. She also suggested a “history wall” with photographs of vintage Oakdale so that if certain aspects of the part couldn’t be preserved, visitors could at least get to enjoy a bit of the history.
Cossio suggested a skateboard arena.
“There’s nothing for youngsters in town,” he said.
Another citizen wanted to see provisions for 24-hour security and restrictions on or facilities for pets.
GREDC board member Ken Prikryl suggested adding venues run by other vendors, such as miniature golf, and a walking trail that eventually might connect with trails at Heritage Park or the Soccer Park.
Bill Briley wanted to see a new multi-functional use for the new part of Oakdale with recreational amenities such as a bicycle track, an area for radio-controlled vehicles and even bleachers.
Downtown merchant Brenda Ransom said she wanted to see the old part of Oakdale be preserved as much as possible.
RV park co-owner Jackie Smith suggested installing regulation-size horseshoe pits for the men. “Why just the men?” some of the women in the audience asked with a laugh. She also suggested possibly moving the bluegrass/gospel music events at the Somervell County Citizens Center to the skating rink.
Each citizen in the audience was given nine votes to cast. He or she could cast them all for one suggestion or split them up. The most votes — 27 — were cast in favor of preserving the old park; 25 were for the walking trail; 23 were for 24-hour security; 20 each were for the buffer zone and the multipurpose facility; 18 were for adapting a plan for the new part of the park; 13 were for the visitor area; and 10 were for the history wall. The other ideas received a handful of votes or no votes.
The council will look at the town hall voting results and amend or adopt Ivy’s proposed plan of action for Oakdale Park at a future meeting. He has suggested providing the “old Oakdale” with modern RV facilities and focusing on improving the original look, including constructing an entrance similar to the original one, only taller and wider to allow modern RVs access.