June 2007 - Posts
We've posted the written comments and questions we received at the June open house meetings on the City web site. We've included the project team's responses. If you need further clarification about one of the issues raised in the notes, please send us a comment via this blog.
We'll have more open house meetings later this summer as the project develops further. For now, the blog seems to be working well to keep you informed and allow input on the project. We've had more than 2,800 views of the blog since it launched in early June. It's gratifying to know so many are using this new tool to stay up to date on the project.
We've just posted the notes from our meetings June 4-5 with board members from the three youth baseball leagues on the City web site. We welcome comments from board members about the notes, which are pretty comprehensive but don't capture every last comment made at the meetings. Let me know if you think we've left something out that's significant.
Here are the links to the meeting notes: Old Settlers Express, Sam Bass Baseball, Round Rock Youth Baseball.
As we're engaging folks about the Sports Complex Improvement Project, one issue we're addressing frequently is the increased cost the City will charge users so we can recover more of our maintenance expenses.
First off, it's important to note we have charged very little for field use. Leagues pay us for the marble dust used to stripe the fields and $18 an hour for electricity when the lights are on. That's it.
We've got a web page up now that explains in more detail the rationale behind the 25 percent cost recovery target (as well as the maintenance and management proposals). For those of you unfamiliar with the 10 Year Plan process, be sure to follow the links provided for a better understanding of that comprehensive financial planning effort. If you're wondering what other cities and organizations charge compared to what we're proposing, here's a chart.
I think the one comment we hear most frequently is, "What do we get for the increased fees?" Here's how Cory Styron, assistant parks and recreation director, answers the question: "First, you'll receive a higher standard of maintenance. We are renovating the fields and this will require a higher maintenance standard than currently provided to ensure long-term playability. You will have a significantly improved playing surface and spectator area from the proposed improvements."
From our perspective, we also have to consider the non-users of the facility. They will be subsidizing less of the on-going costs for maintenance. Note: We'll be asking all users of Old Settlers Park sports facilities - not just baseball fields - to begin paying more.
If the next two paragraphs sound familiar, it's because they are lifted directly from my response to comments on the first post.
The physical improvements to the fields will be paid for by all property taxpayers, assuming the City Council authorizes the issuance of the $12.6 million in Certificates of Obligation (COs) for the project on July 12, as expected. The COs are paid back through property taxes.
Bottom line, the entire community is paying for the physical improvements to Old Settlers Park. We believe that providing space for children to play organized sports is a valuable and important role for local government. We are asking that users of those facilities begin to pay more for the ongoing costs the City incurs to maintain them. How much of the cost recovery comes from recreational league play, select league play and tournament play is something we're asking for input on.
So, what are your thoughts on how much of the cost recovery should be borne by recreational league play vs. select play vs. tournament play (league and out-of-town)? And what about resident vs. non-residents? Should leagues charge more for non-residents? Let us know what you think.
Welcome to the first post of the Old Settlers Park Sports Complex Improvement Project blog. This post will be short and sweet, but there will be much more to follow soon. There are a number of issues we are seeking public input on, so we’ll have a post for each issue, just to keep things organized and easy to follow.
If you need some background on the project, click here.
Our first item for input will be the project mission. The project team met with representatives from the boards of Old Settlers Express Baseball, Sam Bass Youth Baseball and Round Rock Youth Baseball on June 4 and 5. During those meetings, we realized our mission statement needed some tweaking. Here’s what we’ve got at present:
Maximize the benefits to the community of the sports complex at Old Settlers Park, and recover a reasonable portion of the City’s cost to maintain them.
We want to get the mission updated in time for the Monday, June 11, open house meeting. If you haven't already heard, we've also scheduled another open house meeting for Thursday, June 21.
Again, we’ll have more topics posted over the next few days so you can give us the input we need to make this project successful.
UPDATE: We've revised our Mission Statement for the project. It now reads: Maximize the benefits of the sports complex at Old Settlers Park to the community, primarily the youth of Round Rock, and recover a reasonable portion of the City’s maintenance costs.
We've also created a new page on the web site that has more detailed information about fees, maintenance and management of the Sports Complex at Old Settlers Park. It answers many of the questions that have come up in the comments we've received.