PALESTINE, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - The City of Palestine held a public meeting tonight to discuss its athletic complex with the community. This is the first time city representatives were able to discuss logistics of the complex, since the lawsuit regarding it was dropped.
In September, the athletic complex was closed due to a lawsuit filed against the city because the complex was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to Michael Ivy, when he first approached the City of Palestine about accessibility issues at its athletic complex, he just wanted the cross-bar gates opened so he could drive his handicap cart to the baseball diamonds.
“I never dreamed that the park would close,” said Ivy. “I just never saw the city reacting like that. I never, never thought in my mind this would happen.”
The complex was closed in September and the lawsuit was taken to federal court where it was dismissed. The complex remains closed because the city has admitted to the ADA issues that the complex has.
“Yes, we have had the federal lawsuit dismissed,” said Leslie Cloer, the Palestine city manager. “The city still does have to own addressing what is our master timeline for when we can get all of these ADA issues resolved and become compliant throughout our park.”
At the public meeting Tuesday night, members of the community asked questions regarding the complex reopening and offered ideas and suggestions about how they could help.
“We have businesses that are willing to go out there and do the work and it won’t cost taxpayers anything,” said Chris Holman, the chairman of the Palestine Youth Athletic Association, a youth baseball league hoping they can use the complex for their leagues this year. “I think that’s the ultimate goal. Y’all want to keep money in the City of Palestine’s people’s pockets, but still at the same time, get the complex in compliance. I think that’s the best way to handle it; let some of our businesses come out there and do the work for us.”
Ivy said he’s just hopeful the issues will be fixed for generations to come and the complex will be accessible for kids and spectators alike.
“I would like the city to do what they can,” said Ivy. “As my attorney said, they can do as little or as much as they can to get it in compliance. It doesn’t all have to be done all at once, but the goal is to get those kids back on the field and let them play ball.”
Cloer said in order for the complex to re-open, the city needs to have a master plan in place with a timeline, budget, and all details set up for how and when the ADA issues will be fixed. She said that will require help from everyone in the community.
“We need to have all stakeholders within the community coming together to help us work on a master plan of action for how we address these ADA issues moving forward,” said Cloer. “We would love for it to be a truly short period of time for this to happen, but at the end of the day, by law, we have to make sure we’re doing things properly in accordance with the issues we found with the lawsuit.”
The Palestine city council will be holding a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, in the city council chambers. They’re asking that anyone and everyone who is interested in the athletic complex to come out to the meeting and provide input.
At the meeting on Monday, the city council can take action and begin the process of creating a master plan for the athletic complex. This could create a rough timeline for when it can reopen and when the ADA issues can be fixed.
If anyone is unable to attend the meeting on Monday, it will be live-streamed on the City of Palestine’s Facebook page and the audio recording of the meeting will be posted to the city’s website the following day.