Waxahachie planning facelift for city’s park system

Plans are being drafted to give the city of Waxahachie park system a facelift so it can continue to meet the needs of the community.

The $5 million project could possibly upgrade playground equipment and restroom facilities as well as add a new 2-mile hike and bike trail.

“We have a good parks system but they are starting to get old. They are showing their age and need some renovations. We need to update our playground structures. Some of our restrooms need to be updated, especially at the lake. So we are taking all of that to the parks board and they are prioritizing and giving ideas to the mayor and giving him the greatest needs,” said John Smith, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director. “The mayor and the city council have taken it upon themselves to look at our quality of life and to add to our existing park system to keep up with the growth and the number of people that are going to be living here and using our facilities.”

According the city’s website, the city has 18 parks located throughout the community. Several of these parks are neighborhood parks that are not as well-known to the public like Getzendaner Memorial Park and the Waxahachie Sports Complex.

“Our smaller neighborhood parks have been never been touched. They were established years ago. Take for instance A&F Thompson Park. Most people don’t even know where that is. It is a little neighborhood park located off of Jefferson Street, which would be behind our library. It is set in between some of the homes,” Smith said. “It has kind of a large rolling hill. It has got great potential to be a really cool park with a new playground and new amenities such as a new picnic pavilion. So we are looking at that and getting design ideas to see if it’s something worthy of our funds.”

Smith said the parks’ master plan, developed in 2007, laid some of the general concepts with where the city’s parks needed to go in the future. This master plan is going to be used as a guide to help map out proprieties going forward. While ground has not been broken, work on designs and the construction documents are moving forward. City officials are also going to pursue and apply for grant funds for these projects.

The renovation plans for Penn Park are moving forward. According to an Oct. 28, 2015 Daily Light article, the city council approved the use of $600,000 to renovate the park. This will allow for the installment of a covered pavilion, existing playground equipment will be refreshed, the basketball court will be covered, the football field will be redone and a new entrance to the park will be created. A plaza area will be created to provide visitors with the history of the park.

Smith said construction documents are being reviewed at this time and there have been a few items noted to address drainage at the park. Once those issues have been fixed, Smith will send the project out to be voted on, with hopes to have a contractor selected by late May or early June.

The second part of the renovation project is the creation of the Little Creek Hike and Bike Trail. The trail would run from Solon Road to Farley Street.

“Clyde Melick, the former planner, looked at Little Creek and Little Creek flows through the middle of Waxahachie. It basically kind of opens up and flows though Solon Road, where Wedgeworth Elementary is all the way down to Farley Street and beyond. We are looking right now to connect those two points. That is about 2 miles,” Smith said. “We are looking at doing the same type of walking trail that we have on Waxahachie Creek — 8-foot wide concrete. The main streets that this does cross are U.S. Highway 77 and Brown Street. So we are looking at doing some beautification there. It is tricky crossing those two roads since they are high speed and heavily trafficked. On U.S. 77, we would direct people to either cross at the lights at H-E-B, where the kids cross at the high school or at Applebee’s. On Brown Street, we would direct people to cross down by Northside Elementary, where they have crosswalks set up.”

Smith said the new projects will serve the community for years come and increase the quality of life for residents.

“The parks board is excited and I think that the community is starting to hear about these things and is getting excited,” Smith said. “The Waxahachie Creek Hike and Bike trails are one of our top amenities that we added nearly 20 years ago. It has done nothing but grow in popularity.”

 

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