Additions to enhance community

Mineola council OKs volunteer-fueled park and indoor gun range

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A large part of the short November Mineola City Council meeting last Monday at city hall had to do with new things coming to town – one, a neighborhood park to be built by a volunteer, and the other a new business planned by owners of an existing business.

The green light was given on both projects by the council.

The idea for the community park was originally broached with the council in March by Manuel Dominguez. He is a resident of Mineola and a 2006 Mineola High School graduate. The park is planned on slightly under a half acre, in the triangle where the old city water tower at Buchanan and Hogg Streets used to be. Dominguez is a resident of that area. Nine months ago he told the council he was not asking the city for any money to build the park. “I’ll do everything,” he said. That includes taking care of the maintenance. He said he had support for the manpower and some donations for the project. All he asked for was a dumpster and a few “slow for children” signs.

At that time City Administrator Mercy Rushing said the idea would go before the Parks and Open Spaces Board. In last Monday’s meeting the city administrator said the board had granted its approval to the project. The matter was on last month’s agenda but Dominguez, who works a fulltime job, wasn’t able to be there.

A lease agreement had been drafted by city attorney Blake Armstrong; Dominguez can lease for three years at $1 a year. The lease began Dec. 1 and continues through Dec. 1, 2020. “At that time he can give it back to the city or he can decide what he wants to do,” Rushing said. She explained the paperwork is needed because it is still city property and there have been times when well-intentioned people have started things, but after time the project becomes the city’s responsibility.

As part of that agreement Dominguez commits to taking responsibility for the park, including obtaining general liability insurance for $1 million under which the city would also be covered. He would have to provide documentation of the insurance, as well as a financial accounting of matters involving the park. The site will still be city property and it must be used “in a manner which is not offensive” to people in the area.

“And he’s doing this as a volunteer and as a citizen of Mineola wanting to do something for our community and we appreciate that,” Rushing said.

Ward 2 Alderman Jayne Lankford asked about lights. Dominguez said he had contacted the electric company and they told him they would provide the lights; three poles are already at the site. It was noted that the city would be responsible for the electricity. Ward 2 Alderman Jack Newman asked about a deadline or goal for creation of the park.

Dominguez said he had not set a deadline. Rushing interjected, “he’s got three years to get it going. “ Dominguez said, “With everybody that’s on board already” he is hoping to have it done by next summer “but it might be this time next year before everything I was planning to do is done to it.”

Then there was the public hearing on the new business, an indoor shooting range at the Industrial Park. After the hearing the council gave approval in the form of a specific use permit. The business to be built on Park Central is being proposed by Wayne and Lina Perkins, owners of East Texas Ammo in downtown Mineola.

The Perkins were accompanied by Aaron Ludwig of Action Target which will provide the indoor construction for the range. Six notices were sent out to neighboring property owners and two attended a Planning & Zoning Commission hearing. One was concerned about the safety of the facility. The commission recommended approval of the request to the council.

Lina Perkins told the council the range represents about a “$2 and a half million to three million cash injection that we’ll be putting into the city of Mineola.”

“This is not only to support local law enforcement for additional training, but also to create a little bit more of a family bonding time,” she said.

Ludwig passed books around to the council showing projects the company has been involved with and noted that the Perkins’ project “is not something that they plan to build on their own.” He said that Action Target has over 100 shooting ranges in Texas, “alone,” with over 30 in the DFW area. The most recently completed project is Cross Fire in Flower Mound. And last year they completed the Fort Worth Police Department’s indoor firing range. “It’s the largest shooting range in the world indoors,” Ludwig said.

He said the highest construction and safety standards would be used, including eight-inch concrete walls. Rushing asked if the facility would ask for memberships, and was told it would. She also asked if they would provide educational programs for families. They plan to, including providing concealed handgun license training as well as other things.

Ludwig, noting the information he had given the council, said he hoped the council members saw “bright, beautiful, safe places,” adding it will be “a place where firearms safety is done correctly.” Another question was raised about the noise level since it will be inside the city limits. Ludwig replied, “Guns are loud, right? (That’s) the initial concern. On a well-made indoor shooting range, the side walls of this entire building will be solid concrete,” he said as well as have insulation and armored plates.

Ludwig said there would be some sound on the outside “but the ambient noise will be less than the traffic driving by.” In a response to a questio, Wayne Perkins said the facility would accommodate 10 shooters. Those with rifles or handguns would be able to use the facility. Lina Perkins said it is estimated to take nine months to a year to complete the project.

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