NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches may be known for their award winning azalea gardens, biking trails, and wildlife preservation, but a beloved park has been demolished and the city has released no indication that it will be rebuilt.
For the last two years, the group known as Parks Advocacy League has been fighting to raise awareness in the lack of funding for the cities playgrounds.
"All the parks have so many needs and they are critically underfunded," said Mary Turner, a PAL's member. "I don't think residents are aware that we have been trying to raise funds to fix this, but maybe now they will realize it's a problem."
They said they want to use the loss of equipment from Banita Creek Park to be a way for them to reach citizens, and provide education on how to help make sure it doesn't happen to any other parks.
"What we want people to see is that the parks budget is pretty much flat over last year, and if you delve deep you see there is no playground funding," Turner said. "Each year the city has to hold a special budget hearing, and that is where we hope citizens will join us in standing up for our parks."
At 5:30 p.m. on September 8, the City Council will host a meeting to approve that budget. PAL's hopes the more citizens that show up and stand up for the city's parks the better.
"Some kids don't have any other places to go, they don't have safe places to play, I don't think they get enough time outdoors to just think or dream because everything is so scheduled now," Turner said.
Although she has young children she realizes that the works she is doing may not be completed in time for her children to enjoy the equipment or upgraded playgrounds, but the issue for many involved in PAL's is for the community as a whole.
"For me, it's not just about my kids, it's all kids. A rising tide raises all boats, and if other kids are doing well that impacts our whole community," Turner said.
With things like childhood obesity and other illnesses on the rise, she hopes an increase in park beautification will increase in the number of children getting outside and enjoying nature.
"I don't pretend that being outside is the only answer or it answers everything, but I think it's exercise, it's fresh air, it's communion with nature and quieting of the spirit and I think that can help a lot of different things," Turner said.
The organization is always looking for volunteers interested in helping their cause. Their Facebook page, Nacogdoches Parks Advocacy League, is a point of contact and a way for citizens to stay up to date on the latest projects the group is working on.