Granite Shoals council seeks resolution against future park sales
Hillside Park in Granite Shoals is on a list of parks that could possibly be sold by the city, according to Parks Advisory Committee member Robin Deberard. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
To appease the spirits of Granite Shoals residents concerned about their park, City Council on February 8 asked City Attorney Joshua Katz to draft a resolution to discourage the sale of city parks. At the regular meeting, Councilor Phil Ort highlighted feedback from residents during a coffee with council in January.
“It’s tearing our community apart,” Ort said. “The city is in very good financial health. We don’t have to sell the parks. Let’s give everyone peace of mind, and we don’t have to deal with it.
The idea of selling some parks first appeared on the agenda of the Parks Advisory Committee in November. Member Robin Deberard said the committee was told the board wanted a list of parks that could be sold.
“Selling parks comes back a lot,” she said. “If it’s not (the council) and it’s not the parks committee (wanting to sell parks), then ask who is it?” she said, turning to City Manager Jeff Looney. “Is that you Jeff?” Do you want to sell the parks? »
“It happened way before me,” Looney replied. “We had people come and ask us to buy parks. I have a responsibility to this city council and to our citizens.
This responsibility led Assistant City Manager and Director of Parks Peggy Smith to assess each park’s amenities and needs.
“I don’t remember anyone ever saying the parks were for sale,” Looney continued. “It’s a shame that things are said that are taken the wrong way.”
At the Feb. 8 meeting, Katz cautioned against writing a prescription. Unlike a resolution, which sets out a council’s current position on a topic, an ordinance is about prevention and limitation, the lawyer said.
“If you pass an ordinance that prohibits the sale of the parks in the future, that ordinance violates those laws and is likely unenforceable,” he said. “There may be situations in the future that would require (a future council to consider all options). A resolution is not binding like an order. You wouldn’t bind a city council based on the legal options it has.
Katz noted that Texas Local Government Code Chapter 253 shows how city-owned parks can be sold. In one memo dated November 15, 2021, he pointed out that an election must be held in the city so that residents can vote on whether or not to sell a park. If voters approve the sale, he wrote, “city leaders must also pass an ordinance directing the mayor to execute the transfer.”
“It’s a difficult process, a difficult and demanding process,” Katz told advisers. “I know it’s a controversial issue, and a lot of people care very deeply about it. ‘The City of Parks’ is the motto of the city.”
Speaking of legal issues, Katz said a long line of settled cases establishes that a current city council cannot prevent a future city council from acting.
“In the future, things could happen that we cannot predict at the moment,” he said. “Every year we have an election. It is simply bad policy to let a city council today prohibit a future city council from doing something if it is a government power they have.
The board agreed that he draft a resolution, not an ordinance, for consideration at a future meeting.