UTA landscaping class expresses interest in helping with Bywaters park

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra.com

A professor at the University of Texas at Arlington says it’s possible that his landscaping design class might take on Bywaters Park as a project, Mayor AJ Hashmi said Tuesday.

Mayor AJ Hashmi

“He says they do take on projects … and he said he could probably have one of his students drive over, look over Bywaters Park, and make some plans.”

The project piqued the professor’s attention, the mayor said, because “he is from Bonham and has lived in Paris.”

The Paris City Council decided last week against hiring a paid consultant for $12,900 and to rely on local garden clubs, Master Gardeners, and other volunteers for a facelift of the historic park.

“I have talked to some Master Gardeners, and they want to help. There was some resistance because the last time they took on a project, the whole thing got dumped on them,” Hashmi said.

“They also recommended that we talk to the university because they can come up with a lot of beautiful plans. They felt the university has the computer programs and computer knowledge to put it all on paper.”

“In my view, Bywaters Park needs improvement, it doesn’t need redone,” the mayor said.

“The big question that everybody asks me is, does the park have a sprinkler system, because all watering of that is going to be based upon whether there is a sprinkler system. If we want it to be a green park, if we want to keep it nice, we will have to water it properly.”

The Master Gardeners he talked to are interested in sharing their expertise, but that the actual planting of grass and flowers and trees be done by a younger work force, he said.

“My idea is that each of us goes and puts a tree there, each one goes and puts a plant there, and so forth, like we did on the crape myrtle trees around the loop,” Hashmi said.

“You remember when we planted the crape myrtles, how the number of people involved was so much bigger the second time than the first?”

Hashmi said he has talked to “some yard people” in Paris about Bywaters Park and he found interest there also about helping further beautify the park, he said.

Across Sherman Street, on the south side of the park, is a house whose damage several months ago from tree falling on a structure has still not been repaired.

Just northwest of Bywaters Park, in the 200 block of South Main, is a former multi-story apartment complex whose roof has collapsed.

Those will be projects for the city’s Task Force on Substandard Buildings, which will hold its initial meeting on Thursday, Hashmi said.

That task force will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the city council chambers at 107 E. Kaufman St. After electing a chairman and vice chairman, the committee will discuss the objectives they hope to achieve.

Hashmi has said the task force’s lifespan should probably be no more than six weeks. At the end, the task force will give a report to the city council.

The mayor said he considers the task force’s objectives to be:

  1. identify substandard structures in the city
  2. make those structures safe for the community so nobody gets hurt
  3. attempt to approach the owners of those structures and convince them to fix the problem
  4. turn over to code enforcement those owners who do not proceed to take care of structures in need of repair or demolition.

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About the Author
Author

Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.