CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are voices on Corpus Christi's west side who say the neighborhood baseball park, which is under the city’s watch, is on year four of neglect.
The park, located on Greenwood Drive across Martin Middle School, goes by multiple names: Two of them are 'West Side Park,' and 'Westside Pony League'.
One might say this is a park that now belongs to the birds. Flocks of them perch on the fence and bathe in mucky parking-lot puddles.
People who live in the area say a lot of memories were made at the West Side Park. Some of them are forgotten, others are carried with each generation.
"My brother played here," said Lupe Ramirez. "Our kids played here. Our nephews played here. Our dad coached here for 20, 30 years, also."
Now, empty bleachers face an empty scoreboard, and some of the park's enclosed areas are trashed and stripped.
"They've taken all the wire out of all the light posts," Ramirez said. "There's over $100,000 worth of damage here. They say they're going to fix it, and they have a plan, and they're going to change it, but look at how long we've been waiting."
The park has not been leased in a few years and will not be, not long-term, until the fields are fit again. That is what the city's interim parks & recreation department director, Dante Gonzalez, said.
"The fields are not in great condition," he said during a zoom call for a KRIS 6 News interview.
Gonzalez took over the city's parks and rec department last summer. He says the department is still catching up on projects, including this one on the west side.
"I think it's going to take some time, and it's definitely going to take some money," he said. "The fields, in the current state that they are, need extensive work."
The work is so extensive, Gonzalez says, it will take both city and grant money to get it done.
"We are trying to remediate some of the things we can do with the funding we have," he said. "I think a lot of the confusion from the community is in regards to 'When is my community going to be next? When do I get to see those amenities?' We're waiting on the parks' master plan, which is going to come out in March or April."
Here is a preview:
- Salinas Park (right behind the West Side baseball fields) is scheduled this year to get a new walking trail, lighting, and parking lot improvements.
- Fourteen new playgrounds were approved by the city council for various parks.
- Two dog parks are also included in this year's plans.
- There is a skate park in the works.
In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the adopted operating budget for Corpus Christi's Parks & Recreation Department is $20,198,180. That is about $2 million more than the previous year. This department now makes up 6.7% of the city's general fund expenditures.
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