Protecting Detroit, TX Ball Park
Protecting Detroit, TX Ball Park
April 29, 2019
To all it may concern:
The City of Detroit, on behalf of its residents and the Detroit Youth Sports Association (DYSA), would like to file a formal complaint of exploitation and induced liability. On Friday, April 26, 2019, an 11 month old boy from a neighboring town had a seizure while attending a baseball game at the Detroit pall park. Paramedics were called out to render aid. Once the child was stable, loaded and ready to leave it was almost impossible for the ambulance get turned around and headed back out to the hospital due to congested parking and traffic that has been caused by the installations of balusters, barricades and cables along the old railway bed for the "Rails to Trails" project. This incident was just the icing on the cake of countless cars getting stuck as they try to drive on and cross areas that have never been used before.
Due to the balusters, barricades and cables placed along the trail (old rail bed) the parking and driving area at the City of Detroit ball field is now condensed to a dangerous 50' - 75' deep by 400' long strip. This strip currently includes a 150' long section that is unusable due to recent rainfall. This highly congested area allows for parking 2 cars deep with a lane running between for traffic. At any given moment there are handfuls of parents and children walking/running from the bleachers to the concession stand, bathrooms and cars crossing right in front of moving vehicles. This is a HUGE safety concern and a major liability risk.
This +/- 500 foot stretch of old rail bed that runs through our City's park and baseball fields has been maintained by the City and by DYSA (funded through 100% donations) since at least 2002, when the Lennox Foundation graciously donated funds to be used for the construction of a new ball field on the North side of the rail bed. That section of the rail bed was used as a access for parents/players to get from one field to the other. In all the years of being used by autos, pedestrians, parents with strollers, children on bicycles, etc there has not been a single accident. The space to the South of the trail was used for parking and the rail way was the designated thoroughfare. However with the implementation of the Rails to Trails project the local community youth's only recreational venue has been severely compromised. The Northeast Texas Trail Coalition (NETT) and the Greater Paris Development Foundation (GPDF) have made empty promises and have pursued a grandiose vision that works in a metropolitan outskirt but has no positive impact in a rural city such as Detroit. The only activity this area of trail has seen thus far is the illegal use by dirt bikes and atvs. Our local, understaffed and underfunded law enforcement has far more important things to do than patrol an area that is barely being used... Which means that the only motor vehicle activity being prevented is that of the parents and community who are participating at the ball parks. The proposed theory of a 130 mile linear trail/park is being marketed as a vision that "significantly impacts the health, welfare and economic prosperity of these communities and their residents..." From 2003 to 2015 $6 Million dollars have been spent on 17 of 130 miles of trail.....The section coming through our area has seen a fraction of that I'm sure....but it's coming at a SEVERE cost to our local community's youth! These ball fields provide not only the largest, but practically the ONLY, local youth recreational platforms...
Over the past 2-3 years representatives from the City as well as DYSA have several meetings with engineers, attorneys and trail representatives. Each time, there is a verbal agreement made on site that is satisfactory to all and then the actions never carried through. At one of the initial meetings involving Damien Carrasco, speaking for DYSA, and City Mayor Kenneth Snodgrass, the representative from the trail promised that they would give back approximately 4 inches of rock and road materials which bought and delivered at the cost of approximately $8,000.00 to DYSA. This re-allocation was in part to offset the fact that a new road bed and crossing now have to be built and paid for by the City and DYSA. The new road bed as well as the new crossing as drawn out by Hayter Engineering run through historically unused areas that are low and prone to holding water. These areas need extensive fill dirt and rock as well as ditch digging and culvert work so that they are made to drain properly.
The third meeting regarding the trail's impact on the ballpark was held on 4/10/2019. Those in attendance included Mayor Snodgrass, City Secretary Tami Nix, DYSA president Ashley VanDeaver, attorney Ed Ellis, NETT executive president Jack Neal, Judge LD Williamson, as well as representatives from TXDOT , Hayter Engineering and the Paris News. The meeting as at the request of the City to show all those involved the trail's negative impact on the park area and to plead with the NETT and the GPDF to reach out to higher powers to allow for the western barriers on the trail to be extended so that the city would not have to do extensive drainage grading and build a new crossing to have access to the back field. It was also to remind the group of the past agreements to give back the $8,000 worth of material. At this meeting it agreed that Ed Ellis would draw up a written statement of fact as to the discussions and agreements made that day. As of 04/29/2019 the only progress that has been made is that Hayter Engineering has provided a general description of materials and work and a list of contractors who might consider to donate work for the project. Hayter also propositioned RK Hall to donate approximately 3 loads of rock to help offset the $8,000 of materials that will not be given back to the City/DYSA. There has not been a written statement of the meeting provided. There has also been no evidence to show that Mr. Ellis has reached out to anyone regarding the crossing variance that was requested.
Once again, it seems that the needs of and the impact on the smaller, rural and economically challenged areas are being shoved to the back burner and overlooked in the interest of a few random out of towners who may or may not decide to ride a bicycle or hike down a grown up, secluded trail that runs through remote cattle pastures and hunting leases. When I first began researching this issue I was told, "you can't fight the railroad". Truth is, we do not want to fight anyone. We want our community to be able to enjoy the few things that it has but we are willing to stand up and fight if the fight is brought to us. So many times people in small towns feel like they have no voice or that their opinion doesn't matter.... Even if you don't get the outcome that you'd hoped - at least you know that you stood up for what you believe in, who you believe in and tried to make a positive difference for those (our area's children) who are not able to stand up for themselves. We want EVERYONE to be able to enjoy the ball park, city park and even the trail space SAFETLY and to the fullest - that includes anyone who might pass through that area on a hike or a ride down the trail.... but in the current capacity the interest of the "potential" trail user is being considered FAR ABOVE that of our local children and that is something that can NOT go UNACCOUNTED for.
Parent of children who play at Detroit ball park and City Secretary, Detroit TX