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01/06/03  Kiest Park League Softball Fields are not like Golf Course at Tenison Park.

There are so many facets to the pieces of coal Dallas city officials squeeze out of diamonds (like Tenison Park) that many issues may seem similar when they are not.

A DallasArena.com contributor says this DMN article reminded him of the Tenison Park mess:

Dallas hopes to score softball tournaments at new fields
01/01/2003  By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News
Kiest Park is home to Dallas' field of softball dreams.
    A complex of four new tournament-quality softball fields in the Oak Cliff park will be ready for play for the first time this spring. 
   Although softball aficionados are probably salivating over the prospect of league play on the premium fields, park department officials are eager to again be players in the national hunt for tournaments and the dollars they bring.
    John Phillips, metro Dallas commissioner for the Oklahoma City-based Amateur Softball Association, said the fields put Dallas back in the tournament business after a 30-year absence.
. . .as park maintenance dollars were diverted during tight budget times, Dallas' diamonds lost their luster. Its parks were removed from contention, and suburban cities have since filled the void for national tournament play in North Texas.
    Major tournaments are coveted because they involve 90 to 160 teams. Cities usually pay to host the tournaments and get a share of the proceeds from the sale of tickets, souvenirs and concessions. . . .
the economy also benefits as players and their families visit from out of town. Youth tournaments are the most attractive, bringing fat rosters of players along with siblings, parents, grandparents and other extended family.
. . . The new softball complex replaces soccer fields at the south end of Kiest Park. It is built on 54,000 cubic yards of fill so the fields drain properly. The added elevation allows each field to have a covered seating bowl for fans, instead of the more traditional bleachers. Added seating can be brought in. The complex has a softball pro shop and ample concession stands.
. . .These fields will be locked and available for reservation play only."
. . . Much like a municipal golf course, the complex will pay for itself through user fees. Profits will go toward future improvements. . . .


As much as I rant about City Hall screwing with Tenison Park, it's not the same issue as user fees for baseball fields in Kiest Park.  Tenison Park was given to the City of Dallas with a specific gift deed restricting the land to a park for the enjoyment of Dallas citizens and be forever known (or named) as Tenison Memorial Park in honor of the deceased young son of the donating couple.  Not only did the City of Dallas take over more of the park's open space (and wipe out a grove of mature trees), but they put up no trespassing signs all over the place to keep Dallas citizens from "enjoying" the park in the evening.  But that wasn't all the City did -- they let the golf course operator add "Highlands" to the name of the golf course.

It is OK for the city to build a municipal golf course and charge exorbitant fees on city owned land -- even on city owned park land.  It is not OK for the city to violate the terms of a restricted gift deed.
It is OK for the city to build baseball fields and charge exorbitant fees on city owned land -- even city owned park land formerly used for soccer matches (scheduled and unscheduled).  There are direct benefits attached to this expense.  The city owns the fields and makes money from their leases and shares in the revenue from tournaments.

This is much like the Convention Center.  We provide the facility.  In most years, the Convention Center not only pays for itself but the related revenue to the local economy is phenomenal.  At least it was before the Ron Kirk/Arena sales tax took us out of the "good bargain" convention site bracket.

There's another reason the baseball fields in Kiest Park are a good thing -- even when local people use the park -- they will be going to Oak Cliff.  They will see some beautiful homes, beautiful scenery and a wonderful park.  It is always surprising to find yourself in the hills and dales of Oak Cliff when most of the city is so flat.  There are some views from sites in Oak Cliff that will just catch your breath.  People from out of town will be impressed; a lot of local people will be amazed.  

If you are under 55 years old and you did not grow up in Oak Cliff or have relatives in Oak Cliff, you have fallen for the propaganda put out by Our Downtown Betters (the ODB) who wanted to move the city's focus toward Renner.   Next to Turtle Creek Blvd., it is absolutely the most beautiful part of Dallas.  

Softball fields where league tournaments are held will be a great thing for Oak Cliff restaurants, and the city's sales tax revenue.   Most people go eat after a game -- at the nearest place they can find.  That alone will be good for Oak Cliff.  The sales tax revenue will be good for Dallas.

This does not compare to the Hicks/Perot Arena either.  Their arena should have been located in the Cedars or even near the Farmers Market (both South of City Hall), because it's a part of town needing that type of stimulus.  

But back to the Kiest Park ball fields.   I don't play baseball, don't get to a game very often, occasionally watch a game on TV.  I don't play soccer and would never intentionally watch a soccer game live or on TV.  Why should I have to subsidize another adult's entertainment?  Every square inch of park land should not be leveled for a soccer field.  Some of our urban parks should be natural green spaces where families and single adults can go and just be still or have a picnic. 

If the people who are going to use the new Kiest Park diamonds are going to be charged user fees to pay for the upkeep of the fields -- it's a good thing.

I want to see more of the city up-dating our current park inventory.  If there are no deed restrictions on a particular park and the related grounds, I don't have a problem with sections of all parks available on a fee basis.  As long as most of any park is open to the public at no cost, having user fees on sections of parks is a good thing.

We wanted user fees on the Hicks/Perot arena rather than taxes on unrelated industries, like hotels and car rental agencies.  It would have still been a good deal for the Robber Barons, but being the pirates that they are -- they could not resist going for all the gold.  

Since Hicks and Perot already have so much gold from pilfering other community coffers, they have a ton of gold to spread around to elected crooks when they want to go for more gold.  If MPT Poss were to be our next mayor, the Robber Barons would have a champion at City Hall.  Not that they need one, because

THOSE WITH THE GOLD RULE. 


                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8