When news of the Palestine Athletic Complex closing hit the streets Tuesday, many residents were surprised and angry.
A few took action.
Calls to arms in social media posts and GoFundMe pages hit the internet within hours – all urging a solution for the kids, without involving city government.
Ashley DeLeon, a member of the Palestine Youth Athletic Association, moderates the “Save the Complex!” Facebook page. Opened yesterday, the page already has more than 700 members.
“The page is a place for people to share ideas,” DeLeon, 29, told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “We want to find a place for the kids to play, even if it means building a new facility outside city limits.”
Outside the city's limits, and reach, might be the best route, DeLeon said.
“I think it would be better to find a private piece of land, somewhere in the county,” she said. “I don't think any of us have any faith the city would maintain it properly, after we put the time, money, and effort into it.”
The Save the Complex! Facebook page is pro-Palestine, organizers said, but neither DeLeon nor fellow administrator Marisa Williams trusts city officials to handle the money they raise.
“I have no faith they'd use any funds correctly,” Williams, 29, told the Herald-Press. “They might rebuild it, then cut it down for any number of reasons. Give the kids an area outside the city.”
Adrian Serrano, owner of Serrano and Sons Construction in Arlington, started a GoFundMe page to raise $50,000 towards bringing sports back to the kids of Anderson County.
Serrano, whose parents live in Palestine, has six children, all involved in sports that have taught them teamwork and discipline.
“This fund belongs to Palestine,” Serrano said. “What they decide to do with the money should be voted upon. It can be used to upgrade the facility, or buy new land to open up a new field independent of the municipality.”
Serrano said he's already reached out to some associates on the possibility of land outside the city. It might be the way to go, he said, after the lack of response he received from City Hall.
“I called the city manager, Leslie Cloer, when I had the idea,” he said. “She still hasn't called back. I understand she's busy, but you'd like to see a bit of commitment.”
Whatever the solution, it won't happen through finger-pointing.
“I played there when I was a little girl,” Williams said. “My daughter, nephews, and niece were playing there this year, and I was coaching cheerleading.
“We need to get together as a community and find a way to help the kids.”