Southlake’s new parks plan seeks to bring in amenities and more green space
The City of Southlake’s 2035 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan could help meet the city’s need for more green space within walking distance of its residents.
Data from The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit dedicated to creating parks and protecting land for people, shows that only 30% of Southlake residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The national average is 55%.
To bring in more public green space and modernize facilities, a new master plan was adopted on June 15 by city council with the Southlake sports complex listed as a top priority.
“[Having additional courts and fields] will draw [people]. If we handle it correctly, it [have] use of the city, use of citizens and hopefully be able to organize tournaments, âsaid Randy Robbins, board member.
Recommendations for park projects were prioritized using community feedback over two years. Along with the Southlake Sports Complex, the other three main parks to tackle are Bob Jones Park (minus the Nature Center and Preserve); Liberty Park in Sheltonwood; and North Park.
More green space
The Town of Southlake has 36 public parks for a total of 1,139 acres of public space.
The Trust for Public Land estimates that only 5% of the city’s land is used for parks and recreation, compared to a national median of 15%.
Chris Tribble, director of parks and recreation, said the city is aware of some gaps in accessible public spaces. He said the new master plan addresses this need by recommending more land acquisitions.
âThere are still plots of land in Southlake that are not developedâ¦â said Tribble. âIf there are assets that make sense to further develop our park system, then we have the capacity to look at that. “
â¢ Mayor Pro Tem Chad Patton said that one of the problems the city has faced in pursuing land acquisition is drainage issues. He said the city was looking for ways to turn undeveloped land into passive open spaces.
âIt’s a long term plan that I’m sure we’ll be talking about in our summer workshop,â he said. “But it’s difficult because some areas are sort of landlocked, and we can’t demand land from residents or existing landowners just because we feel like we want more open space.”
For two years, the Parks and Recreation Commission gathered feedback before creating park packages. Classified by level of importance, the recommendations were then shared with the city council.
The $ 26.7 million improvements to the Southlake Sports Complex will transform it into a new community park with expanded open fields, baseball fields, concessions and washrooms, a fully accessible playground, fitness stations, batting cages and a pickleball facility.
“[We wanted to make sure] that we can accommodate as many sports as possible. We are trying to make our grounds more and more flexible, âsaid Frances Scharli, President of the Parks and Recreation Council.
Bob Jones Park will receive interactive public art and add a 5,000 kilometer running loop to the park. The potential for a pickleball field, the installation of synthetic turf, and improvements to the soccer and softball complex are also on the list.
Improvements to Liberty Park in Sheltonwood will include additional amenities near the trails, and North Park will see its lacrosse fields replaced. It may also have a fourth field added, among other recommendations.
Along with the big projects, there will also be smaller upgrades that don’t require a lot of time and money. Examples include park benches, trail distance markers, and garbage cans.
âSome of these are sort of handy fruit-like recommendationsâ¦ that we can make along the way, so we can have that impact in multiple parks,â Tribble said.
The upgrades are expected to be completed over several years once adequate funding is secured, which itself will take some time, Tribble said.
The projects mentioned in the amended master plan are primarily funded by the city’s half-cent sales tax. About $ 5 million a year is earned for parks through this tax.
For a project like the Southlake Sports Complex, estimated at nearly $ 27 million, only $ 10.7 million was raised. The city cannot begin any work on this first priority until an additional $ 16 million has been secured.
âWhile it’s a bit of a slow process, the wonderful thing is that you focus your money, your effort and your time – and you are successful when you do,â said Scharli.