By Brittney Cook, Anthony Uy & George Pardon
The Cypress City Council and City Manager have ignored citizen inputs and concerns over and over again for issue after issue. Help us stop them from further damaging our neighborhoods.
We are seeking to enforce the “public” nature of the new Lexington Park. The city is clearly pushing for a commercial enterprise with no concern for the desires and needs of the local Cypress community. We are pursuing litigation to stop the city from running over our concerns any further. We need your help.
When Cypress residents approved Measure A in June 2018 to rezone the race track and remaining golf course property, the restriction on the use of the public park area was very clear. The initiative states that public parks are provided for the benefit of the entire community; public parks will provide substantial recreational opportunities for both existing and future residents of Cypress; and public parks will provide areas for recreation, gatherings, and reflection for Cypress residents. When the owner of the race course generously donated 9 acres to the city for this park zoned property, the donation agreement stated that the land was donated ‘exclusively for public purposes’.
On May 24, 2021, the Cypress City Council held a workshop to discuss the possible funding sources to maintain Lexington Park as well as an example of an allocation of use. The majority of the park is comprised of two soccer fields and the parking needed to support events at the soccer fields. The allocation of use is dedicated in a ‘pay to play’ format. In fact, evening hours are scheduled only as market use.
During the workshop, the City Manager said: ‘We live in a world where recreation users are willing to spend money in exchange for value.’ He also said ‘We dream of a world where there is a professional or collegiate soccer or lacrosse team that is a regular presence during the weekday to practice or train.’ Mayor Peat made the point that ‘We are building a really fantastic asset and that’s what we should be charging for.’ This is more of a business than a public park.
While it is understood that the city has the right to rent out city-owned facilities to generate additional income, that right is limited to tangential use, not the primary use. Almost all of the time slots include ‘Market Use’ availability and a significant amount is limited to ‘Market Use’. The issues with market use go beyond the ability of public access to the park, they also include traffic, parking, noise, and lighting impacts to our residents.
An attorney has reviewed all of the information related to the proposed use of this park as it relates to restrictions specified in the ballot initiative. It is the attorney’s opinion that there is a substantial case in favor of the residents. Unfortunately, the only option we have is to sue the City that is supposed to be representing the residents.
While there is no objection to some rental of the park property, the residents need to be the primary users of the park at no cost beyond what is already paid through our property taxes. If the residents allow this new park to be designed in a ‘pay to play’ format, there is nothing that will prevent the City from turning all of our parks into business enterprises.
Now is the time to take a stand.
Please consider contributing to the Go Fund Me that has been set up to cover litigation costs. The attorney has provided a cost estimate of $10,000 to file an injunction against the city to prevent the city from opening Lexington Park unless significant operational changes are made that will prioritize access and use of the entire park for Cypress residents. Ideally, funds needed to move forward with litigation will be raised by September 30.