Take Our Parks Back

The industry flyers are coming so fast it’s hard to dig out from one set of lies before they dump another one on us. A recent one claims that the ban will cause Denton to “lose millions for creating and maintaining our parks and recreation areas.” It states that the ban will lead to “ill-maintained playground equipment” that will put “Denton children at risk.” We are supposed to turn to their website for more information. Shockingly, there is nothing there that mentions parks and recreation at all. Even their thoroughly-debunked industry-funded report doesn’t mention parks and recreation.

That’s because once again a look at the actual data undermines their case.

We’ll get to the numbers in a second, but we don’t even have to go there to see how bogus the claim is. They are arguing that without fracking our playgrounds will fall apart. There was no fracking in Denton prior to 2002. Yet we had well-maintained playgrounds well before then. There are hundreds of cities in the U.S. without fracking at all. According to their logic, those cities must be risking their children’s safety every day with poorly maintained playground equipment.

For the past few years Denton has maintained a “Parks Gas Well Fund.” This must be the millions they are talking about. Here is what the City of Denton has to say about this:

“Because gas well revenue is considered a short‐term resource, the expenditures programmed from these funds for FY 2013‐14 will be used to fund one‐time needs. These expenditures are consistent with a City Council established policy that royalty, pooling and lease revenue from gas wells not be used to fund on‐going operational expenses.”

We know better than to try to maintain parks and playgrounds with revenues that are ephemeral. Now that really would be irresponsible.

The city’s budget for FY 14 notes that the Parks Gas Well Fund will provide:

“$40,000 for improvements to Denia Park athletic field, $55,000 for expenses related to the Vela Soccer Complex, and a one‐time transfer of $45,500 to the General Fund to fund a new concession stand at the Water Park.”

That’s a total of $140,500. About a dollar for each Denton citizen. Hardly the “millions” quoted on the flyer. The total budget for Denton Parks and Recreation is $11.7 million. That means fracking provides 1.2% of the budget. And recall that gas wells will continue to produce revenue after the ban.

The fracking ban will lead to broken swing sets?! It’s amazing how far they will go in a campaign of blustering, baseless hyperbole.

The flyer features a quote: “What kind of a city would Denton be if the kids didn’t have a place to swing?”

Those are our sentiments exactly. Because it is fracking that jeopardizes our playgrounds. The frack site by McKenna Park emits dangerous levels of benzene. Several parents won’t take their children there to play. One local private school won’t take their children there either.

A vote FOR the ban is a vote to take our playgrounds and parks back.