Mayor's Update #16: City to Form a Blanco Youth Advisory Council
By Mayor Bruce Peele
The heart and future of any community is its youth. This is especially true in Blanco, a small town with a big future. It is the youth of our City that will provide future leadership and the spark of vitality and creativity that keeps us feeling optimistic about the future. Yet, we, as a City, have done very little to nurture our youth, provide them with wholesome recreational facilities, or build an economy that encourages them to remain in the City after they graduate from high school or college.
How can we do better? Well, how about asking the young people themselves? To that end, the City is working with our youth to form a Blanco Youth Advisory Council. The purpose of the Council will be to identify and advise the City on issues affecting our young people now and in the future.
In addition to advising, the Youth Advisory Council will be asked to take ownership of their ideas and work towards making their recommendations a reality. For example, we have heard from three “generations” of youth asking for a Skateboard Park to be constructed in Blanco. But, for various reasons, no park has been constructed. So, the question is, will the Blanco Youth Advisory Council put this project at the top of their priority list, take ownership of it, and make it a reality? Such a project is realistic as, I understand, Johnson City is apparently constructing a Skateboard Park now. How did they do that? Can we do that? How have other communities accomplished similar projects? The Blanco Youth Advisory Council will be given the opportunity, with City backing, to come up with answers to those types of questions and help the City move forward on projects such as this.
Another project that has been discussed but never moved off the drawing board is a Frisbee Golf Course. This may be a relatively inexpensive project but it requires acreage, with obstacles, to set it up. The Youth Advisory Council could take this on and research if there is a demand for such a course, specify general requirements, identify land, and suggest funding. Is that a lot to ask of our youth? I don’t think so. Young people, properly motivated and supported, can do amazing things and Blanco has some amazing young people.
Yet another possible project is a Splash Park that could be built in the “Pecan Bottom” City Park on the south side of the City Square. The City has already made arrangements with the Church of Christ to allow for public parking in their parking lot whenever the church is not using it for events. The City could also construct a public restroom facility there to service both the Splash Park and Bindseil Park, eliminating the need to rent porta-potties for City-sponsored events.
Are any of these projects of interest to Blanco’s youth? Would they be used by our young people? Or are they just my ideas that would end up being a waste of money. The Youth Advisory Council will provide the City with insights that we adults just can’t get on our own.
There are other areas we need youth input on, not just construction of facilities. For example, what kind of music should the City book for the Arts-in-the-Park program that would attract a youthful audience? Would ethnic music be appropriate for segments of Blanco’s youth? Should the City try to attract a circus to Blanco? Should we try to repeat the “Globetrotter” basketball show we had a few years ago? Should the City work with the school district to try to establish a Junior ROTC Unit at Blanco High School? Would a summer job training program for Blanco’s youth be attractive? What kinds of permanent jobs would bring them back to Blanco after they graduate? From the standpoint of Blanco’s youth, what can be done to improve to quality of life in Blanco now and in the future?
We hope to get the Youth Advisory Council up and running this Fall. We have on board a very sharp young man who has volunteered to organize the Council. The City will provide a meeting space, administrative support, and a liaison person. We anticipate that the City Council’s liaison person will make regular reports and recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on issues affecting Blanco’s youth.
The Blanco Youth Advisory Council also needs are two adult volunteers (one male and one female, 21 years old or older) to be advisors, not leaders, as the youth will be the leaders of the Council. Anyone interested in taking on this challenge is encouraged to contact Blanco City Hall and let us know of your interest.