When the Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Parks Committee met Sept. 3 to approve its proposed 2021 budget, its member village associations made it clear they wanted no part of any increase in 2021. The budget as proposed represented an increase of 1.13% over 2020 and was based mainly on anticipated increases to ongoing maintenance and routine park improvement costs. Dee Price of Sand Creek asked the committee if there were any comments or changes from the associations before the vote to approve the budget as proposed.
“Yes!” Bob Markeloff of Hunters Ridge said. “Right now, as was pointed out, we have economic problems scattered all over the place. I don’t think any of our associations want to increase their assessments and I don’t think KSA should increase its assessment. It needs to start with the parks budget.”
He pointed out the budget increase was only over a little more than 1%.
“We know, as you pointed out, Dee, that we expect a budget underrun, so I am sure we can sharpen our pencil and cut this budget a little bit so that there is no increase from 2020 to 2021. I think that’s what the community needs and that’s what we need to deliver,” Markeloff said.
Discussion followed about how to reduce it, whether by making an across-the-board percentage cut or by adjusting or eliminating specific projects.
Price pointed out there was a line item in the budget for $6,000 to cover “community services,” which is seldom spent. “We could certainly drop that by $5,000,” she said.
Furrow and others asked if there were any significant contingency funds for capital projects that could be reduced or were likely to be less than originally anticipated. Price explained that the planned major repair to the road approaching River Grove Park contained a sizable contingency above its estimated cost because the project’s detailed scope of work was not yet clearly defined. She thought not all of it was likely to be used once the detailed scope of the construction was determined. The committee agreed but left it in the budget and decided to approve the total budget for $719,742. The final amount is only 0.43% over that budgeted for 2020 even if all the built-in contingency money is actually required.
In other business, Bob Rehak updated the committee on his research to improve a section of trail in East End Park.
“Last month Syd (Furrow) posed the question of what it would take to pave the Eagle Lake Trail, the one now covered with sand. We spent a good part of the month trying to get a ballpark estimate for tonight,” Rehak said.
He outlined a number of various options and pointed out that, depending on the length of trail chosen and the way the trail base through the soft sand would be anchored and stabilized the costs ranged anywhere from about $8,000 to around $25,000.
“The question is, it worth $25,000?” Rehak asked. Both he and Furrow pointed out that it was among the most beautiful of the trails, but it was now difficult for many people, especially the elderly, to physically walk through the deep soft sand unless they were working on their cardio-fitness plans. Rehak also raised the question of planning for the possibility of another huge flood event that could threaten the investment after it was completed, depending how it was designed and constructed. It was clear from the discussion that the committee was not ready to make any immediate decision.
“May I suggest that from a budgeting perspective, if the majority of the committee is interested, I would think we spend the rest of this year investigating and coming up with costs and take it to the board in January to get an appropriation from the Parks Improvement Fund,” Price said. The committee immediately agreed and Rehak committed to do the feasibility study needed to choose between a number of options, including doing nothing at all.
KSA Parks Committee meetings are normally held on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2030 Shadow Rock Drive. However, they will continue using Zoom for teleconferencing until COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Houston.