Breckenridge Texan

City Commission to meet tonight for discussion on southeast park, city manager position

City Commission to meet tonight for discussion on southeast park, city manager position
April 22
14:50 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

A topic from the April 6 Breckenridge City Commission meeting will continue to be discussed at a special meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, April 22, as a group of local high school students are scheduled to present their request to post a plaque at a local park they have recently renovated.

Three Breckenridge High School seniors, Kayla Wood, Thomas Hamilton and Caroline Turner, have been participating in the Texas Municipal Community Network’s Leadership program, which invites teams from area high schools to take on projects that will improve their communities. The group researched potential projects in Breckenridge and decided to work on the small park located on the southeast side of Breckenridge.

According to the report the students gave to the City Commission, they raised some money and got donations of time, labor and supplies from several businesses, for a total of about $80,000 in improvements to the park.

The park is located in southeast Breckenridge in the vicinity of Power Street and O’Connor Street. According to the history of the park that the students researched, the park was originally created and maintained by the African American residents in the area. The City of Breckenridge received ownership of the park in 1961 and officially named it either Breckenridge Park or Breckenridge South Park. The bigger city park, located to the north at East Walker Street and Old Caddo Road, is officially named Miller Park.

Based on their research, the students found out that the southeast park was commonly referred to as the “Black park” by all members of the community. They want to include that information on the plaque or marker they want to place on the baseball field’s backstop.

According to the students, the plaque would have wording on it explaining that the park is now named South Park but that it was once commonly known as the “Black park.”

During the April 6 meeting, Mayor Bob Sims said that he wanted to table the commission’s discussion on the plaque until the full commission could be there. On that date, two members of the commission, David Wimberley and Russell Blue were absent. Attending the meeting were the mayor and commissioners Rob Durham and Tom Cyprian.

“In regards to the actual name on the plaque, what would be on it, what it needs to be called, there’s been some misunderstanding, I guess,” Sims said. “The main thing is just to have a full commission here to have their input. And when, you know, whatever the commission decides or comes up with, that’s what we will do.”

Durham said he didn’t understand why they needed to wait on a decision. “The very park that they’re talking about is the same park that I grew up in as a kid,” Durham said. “We had Juneteenth to July Fourth before they had July Fourth in the big park. And, there wasn’t anything back then (about calling it the Black park)…that’s what everybody called it…So, I don’t see why this should be a big deal.”

Interim City Manager Heather Robertson-Caraway and Public Works Director Houston Satterwhite said they had received negative feedback from community members about the reference to the words “Black park” being included on any signage in the park. Additionally, Robertson-Caraway said the city’s attorney had advised against the wording.

Sims and Cyprian voted in favor of tabling the discussion until a later meeting, and Durham voted against the motion. The motion carried and the discussion was ended at that meeting.

The topic is the first item on the agenda for tonight’s meeting. The agenda also includes an executive session for the commission members to discuss the city manager position, for which they have been accepting applications. If necessary, the commission will return to regular session for further discussion and any voting related to the city manager position and any other personnel topics that require a vote.

Cutline, top photo: Kayla Wood, right, and Thomas Hamilton address the Breckenridge City Commission about their project to renovate the park in the southeast part of the city. A discussion about a plaque the Breckenridge High School students want to place in the park will continue at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22, in a special city commission meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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