Construction on new High Oak Park could begin in January

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A long-empty field near High Oak Estates in west Arlington will soon become an official neighborhood park with walking trails and other amenities.

Arlington has about $300,000 in natural gas revenue and grant funding set aside to begin the first phase of the newly named High Oak Park, at Bowen Road and Wesley Drive. The 12-acre site was once home to the blighted High Oak Terrace Apartments, which the city used federal grant funding to purchase in 2004 and then tear down in 2005.

Construction, which will include soft-surface and concrete walking trails, landscaping, a sidewalk along the west side of Bowen Road and picnic areas, is expected to begin in January and be complete by May or June, parks assistant director Matt Young said.

Earlier this month, the Arlington City Council voted to officially name the land High Oak Park at the request of residents who live around the site and participated in the project’s long-term master plan development.

“They didn’t want it to end up as something else. They wanted to preserve the history of their neighborhood,” Young said.

Phase I includes a nearly quarter-mile, 10-foot-wide concrete walking trail that will loop the park and wind through the trees, Young said. A shorter soft surface trail, which also winds through trees, will be located near the park entrance. Besides picnic tables, the city plans to add trees, wildflowers and other landscaping to beautify the site.

The park will not initially have a parking lot so visitors are expected to use on-street parking along Wesley.

A second future phase of construction is expected to include a playground and small pavilion. Work will begin on that phase when funding, estimated to be about $200,000, becomes available, Young said.

Originally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stipulated that Arlington was to redevelop the site with single-family homes — some for low-income buyers — since the city used $2.8 million in federal funds to buy and demolish the 132-unit complex.

However, a viable single-family housing project never materialized, and at the urging of surrounding residents, Arlington was able to reach an agreement with HUD in 2012 that the land could be turned into a public park, Young said.

“Not only are we making the neighbors happy by claiming this as open space and not bringing in more homes, they are going to be able to take advantage of some passive recreational activities,” Young said.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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