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Arlington seeks public's views on park projects

03/25/2013 6:09 AM

03/25/2013 6:14 AM

ARLINGTON -- A decade ago, Arlington residents identified more than $100 million in park and recreational projects they wanted to see the city build, including a dog park, a new outdoor pool and walking trails along Johnson Creek.

A number of the projects identified on that wish list in the 2004 Park Recreation and Open Space Plan have since been completed or are at least under way. Now Arlington is again gathering feedback on what park and recreational facility renovations or additions residents want the city to tackle during the next 10 years. A series of public meetings to begin shaping that plan, expected to be adopted by the City Council in 2014, starts today.

"We really hope people come out and tell us what they want to see. This is their park system," Assistant Parks Director Matt Young said. "With limited resources, we can only do so much. If we are focusing available dollars on projects we think people want and we are off base, we are not being successful."

In addition to the five open-house meetings scheduled between today and April 15, the city will also conduct an online survey to gather input. A draft of the revised Park Recreation and Open Space Plan is expected to be presented at a second series of public meetings later this year.

Trails and playgrounds

A bond election expected in November 2014 could provide funding for many of the projects that residents identify in the new plan, Young said. Voters approved $15.5 million in bonds for 21 park projects in 2008.

Young said he expects trails and playgrounds to be fairly high on residents' wish list as well as the continued desire for an outdoor pool and recreation center in southeast Arlington, which doesn't have either of those amenities.

"The highest-priority projects will be submitted for citizens' consideration," Young said.

In 2004, Arlington had more than 4,500 acres of parkland through its 88 parks. The city has more than 4,800 acres of parkland now with its 90 parks. At least 80 percent of those park sites are developed or at least partially developed.

To ensure that residents are located within a half-mile of a park, the city projects that it needs to acquire land for at least 10 additional park sites. Southeast Arlington needs at least four new park sites, according to an analysis, Young said.

Past projects

Projects identified in 2004 that have since been completed include the Bad Königshofen Family Aquatic Center, the Tails 'N Trails Dog Park, Founders Plaza in downtown, Lake Arlington golf course renovations, and development of the Crystal Canyon Nature Preserve.

But many projects remain unfinished or not even started in the 2004 plan, including a second dog park, a new indoor aquatic facility, a canoe launch at River Legacy Parks East and construction of a banquet hall at Tierra Verde Golf Club. Whether residents want those items to stay in the revised plans remains to be seen.

"We really use this as our roadmap to developing the park system that residents want long-term," Young said.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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