OVILLA - City leaders are moving forward to develop a master plan for the City of Ovilla parks system. This project would feature input from residents on the different amenities that are wanted and needed in the city park system.

The Ovilla City Council approved a proposal to hire Grant Works to help the city with this project at its Dec. 11 meeting. If the contract with Grant Works is passed in January, the company will begin surveying residents.

“One of the things that I talked with them, the Economic Development Council and the parks board, about is a specific park master plan. Both entities agreed and the EDC committed to paying for it if we could get someone to do a master plan at a reasonable cost,” Ovilla City Manager John Dean said. “We had done a parks master plan with Grant Works when I was at Pilot Point. So I knew that we could get one done at a fairly reasonable cost. So we contacted them and several other folks to give us proposals.”

Dean stated that the survey that Grant Works will be conducting would be an essential tool in finding out what the consensus is of the community. The study would be done in several methods including online surveys, mailers, and possibly public meetings.

The information would be collected from the public from January through mid-July. Applications for grants would start following the completion of the survey.

“What I am looking for is what does the community think that we need. I don’t have an agenda like we need 20 baseball fields or anything like that. I think that we need to know what the community thinks that we need. From there we move forward in what is realistic and what is reasonable,” Dean explained. “The top two that came out in Pilot Point was a swimming pool and a splash pad. It seems like everyone wants a swimming pool, but it is not necessarily reasonable or feasible for every community to have a swimming pool. In Pilot Point, we sat right on Lake Ray Roberts. We ended up building a splash pad. That was one of the things that we moved forward on as a priority because it was reasonable and feasible for us.”

Dean shared that Grant Works will also look at the city’s existing park system to see if improvements can be made and to see which parks are underutilized. The city’s existing parks include Heritage Park located in the 600 block of Cockrell Hill Road, Pritchett Park located off of Ashburn Glen Lane, the park located behind city hall in the 100 block of Cockrell Hill Road, and a park located on Buckboard Street.

Once the survey is completed Grant Works will work with city staff to apply for grants. One organization that the city is looking to apply for funding is from Texas Parks and Wildlife, who offer recreation grants. These grants have been offered to communities since 1965 and help to build new parks, conserve natural resources, provide access to bodies of water, and develop educational programs for youth.

According to Grant Works website, the company has secured more than $850 million in grant funding for a variety of programs. It also provides step-by-step instructions for each and every grant application to make sure all questions are answered, documents are completed, and deadlines are met.

Dean shared that in his municipal career he has worked with Grant Works before in the past and has been successful in securing grants for projects.

He added that parks play an important role in the community by bringing people together.

“To me, a park is a place that builds a sense of community. It is where people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds can get together and interact. It is one of the things that people don’t necessarily look at when they think of parks, but I think that society-wise it is important,” Dean explained. “Every community is different so I don’t know what we are going to come up with through this survey. We might not need baseball fields. That space could be utilized for something else.”