Play time

A massive tractor drags scrapers over ground on the south end of Joe Brigance Park last week. The property will soon be the site of new multi-use fields maintained and operated by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. (Photo Floyd Ingram)

A massive tractor drags scrapers over ground on the south end of Joe Brigance Park last week. The property will soon be the site of new multi-use fields maintained and operated by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. (Photo Floyd Ingram)

HOUSTON – Improvements are being made to the south-end of Joe Brigance Park as part of the city’s master plan for the Parks and Recreation Department.

The city tore down the old dugouts and concession stand fronting Starkville Road earlier this summer and a massive tractor and grader was busy this past week leveling up three fields that are being billed at multi-use fields.

The city has also torn down the fence surrounding Kids Park in an effort to mitigate vandalism that has plagued the park for years.

“We are building one of the fields the size of a regulation soccer field,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “We are also leveling up spots for a couple of other smaller fields.”

Parker said the fields could also be used for a flag-football program or as practice fields for a variety of other sports.

“This is all part of the master plan we started about four years ago,” said Parker. “People remember when we moved to the north end of the park and developed those fields and those programs have boomed.

“Now we are back on the south end,” he added. “I can’t tell you when those fields will be ready. We are looking for some volunteers to help us with those fields and either seed it or sprig grass.”

Troy Jantz was hired by the city to handle the leveling dirtwork for a nominal fee.

Parker said city funds for this work are being bolstered by concession stand revenue collected over the past four years and fees from tournaments held on city fields this summer. He pointed out team fees are plowed back into those particular leagues so those programs break even.

“Our attitude has always been, if you build it they will come,” said Parker. “The idea is if you provide a place to play, people will use it and support it.”

Parker also said the removal of the sponsor fence surrounding the Kid’s Playground is another change for the south part of the park.

“We were spending between $2,500 and $3,000 a year to keep the boards up on the fence surrounding the Kid’s Park,” said Parker. “It’s been a on-going problem and we are trying something different and we will see if this works.”

The Kid’s Park was built with donations over 10 years ago with donors getting a plank in the fence with their name on it.

Vandals have repeatedly broken those signature planks and many have been replaced without a name. Vandals also damage the playground equipment on a regular basis.

“Removing the fence may actually make it more safer,” said Parker. “It will certainly make it easier for parents to see what their kid is doing and who is in there.”

The city expanded its parks and recreation department almost two years ago and hired John Gravat as the director. Baseball, softball and tennis are currently played on city property. The walking track in Joe Brigance Park is also heavily used by the community.

The city recently built a roofed stage in the center of the park for public use.

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