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With the city of Corpus Christi facing the largest budget shortfall since the financial crisis, many departments have been told to start running as a business rather than a public service.
One department working to bring in revenue is Parks and Recreation.
The City Council on Tuesday heard the first reading of the sale of three city parks (two in the Southside and one in Annaville) to private entities. The sales will be finalized after the second reading at an upcoming council meeting.
Congress Park, 4017 Capitol Drive, will be sold for $180,000, and Creekway Park, 7306 Prairie Drive, for $75,000. Both will be sold to Southern Builder Co., LLC.
Chris Montalvo, with Mirabal, Montalvo and Associates, and The Clower Company, are the listed brokers for both sales.
Violet Park, 4301 Violet Road in Annaville, will be sold for $115,000 to Isaac Camacho and Janet L. Camacho. Camacho is connected to Camacho Demolition and Environmental, which has locations on Agnes Street, in Sinton and in Beeville.
Multiple attempts to reach Montalvo and Camacho by phone were unsuccessful. All parks will be sold “as-is.”
The money goes into the department’s community enrichment fund, according to Jay Ellington, Parks and Recreation Department director.
“The money that comes from parks sales and development fees, all of those monies are plowed right into the park system generally doing basic improvements,” Ellington said. “This could be for playground renovation, replacing shelter and putting trails in.”
Corpus Christi voters approved the sale of 17 parks in 2014, and they went on the market in January 2016. Only three will remain on the roster after these three are sold.
In 2012, nearly 30 parks were identified in a Parks and Recreation master plan which classified them as “re-purposable.”
This opened options for the city: “adoption, lease, transfer to another government entity, sale or allowing them to return to a natural state,” according to an agenda memo.
Mt. Vernon Park, 5151 McArdle Road, fetched the highest sales price at $1,756,765. It was originally listed at $1,605,000.
Seven parks were adopted by community members or transferred to another city agency for maintenance.
One park that was saved in the 11th hour is another Southside space, Ridgewood Park nearly Holly Road.
The community started a petition and eventually convinced the city to let them officially adopt the park. The park is now maintained mostly by its nearby neighbors.
When parks are sold, home and property owners within 500 feet of the space are notified by mail of the sale consideration. Signs are also posted in the park that note the time and date of a City Council meeting to protest the sale.
Ellington said the sales are not contingent on the buyer’s future plans for the space. All zoning changes are handled post-sale by the buyer, according to the agenda.
There are more than 150 parks in Corpus Christi, and 1,900 acres of park land, Ellington said.
As required by law, the department will start its next master plan process in the coming months. Ellington said it is likely more parks will be added to a sale list.