Voters will soon be asked to green-light $60 million for 16 park projects, including construction of a second off-leash public dog park and new recreation centers with pools in east and southeast Arlington.
The Nov. 4 election includes four propositions totaling $236 million, the largest bond package in the city’s history. Arlington residents will also be asked to approve about $160 million for street improvements, $9.78 million for fire facilities and about $6 million for libraries. Early voting runs Oct. 20 through Oct. 31.
More than half of the money in Proposition 2 would go toward renovating existing facilities, such as neighborhood parks, Ditto Golf Course and the Harold Patterson Sports Center. The rest would build the two proposed recreation centers, add amenities such as walking trails and a playground to the undeveloped Julia Burgen Park near downtown, create a dog park in west Arlington and $1 million to buy land in south Arlington for a new neighborhood park.
“We’re really comfortable we’ve developed a list of projects the public has been requesting,” Parks and Recreation Director Lemuel Randolph said. “It addresses a lot of long-term needs.”
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck encouraged residents to approve the bond package, which he said would provide critical funding for a park system that makes Arlington a healthier and more attractive place for residents and businesses.
“We have to keep our parks in shape. They deteriorate with age,” said Cluck, adding that he enjoys exercising at River Legacy Parks with his wife, Linda. “As more people come. we needs to build more parks. It’s important for families to have access to a safe park system, to read, walk or do whatever activity they want to do.”
The largest item is $25 million for a recreation/aquatic center in southeast Arlington, the only part of town without one. The 60,000-square-foot center, most likely located at Webb Community Park, would include amenities such as a fitness room, gymnasium, classrooms and a leisure pool. If approved, the city will seek the community’s input on the center’s design and available programs, which are expected to include day camps, fitness classes and after-school care.
“In the 10 years I’ve been on the council, it has been the number one most-requested park in southeast Arlington,” said City Councilman Robert Rivera, whose district includes about 85,000 residents. “We are behind the curve there.”
The proposition also includes $19.5 million to rebuild the Hugh Smith Recreation Center, which was built more than 50 years ago in east Arlington and has significant maintenance and space issues. The proposed 67,000-square-foot center would offer the same types of fitness, recreation and senior services available at Hugh Smith now, including an indoor pool, but it would also feature space dedicated for library services.
The city will ask residents to approve about $5.7 million in a separate bond proposition to pay for the library space, which would replace the East Branch Library. That branch, which opened in the 1970s, has become too small for the district’s needs, officials have said.
If approved, the combined facility could either be built on the existing Hugh Smith site, which would leave east Arlington residents without a recreation center for about three years, or it could be built elsewhere along New York Avenue, Randolph said. That choice would require the city to purchase land, which could mean having less money available for the project.
Renovations are planned for 10 parks across the city.
“A park is never really complete. It will require maintenance. There will be new amenities requested,” Randolph said.
Requested funding include $1 million at Randol Mill Park to repair the tennis and basketball courts and parking lots, dredge the pond and replace the playing surface of the Doug Inman Miracle Field.
Another $1 million would rebuild aging parking lots and trails and make erosion repairs at River Legacy Parks in north Arlington, and $600,000 is proposed for Cottonwood Creek restoration and construction of a pedestrian bridge at Helen Wessler Park in east Arlington.
The city plans to rebuild aging trail sections and replace entry signs at both the Village Creek Historical Area and Bob Findlay linear parks in west Arlington for $600,000.
At the California Lane Park, the city seeks $600,000 to renovate the sprayground and playgrounds and to build a public restroom. The sprayground would also be updated as part of $400,000 in renovations planned at Brantley Hinshaw Park.
Bowman Springs Park is set for $600,000 in improvements to its playground, restrooms, pavilion and parking lots, and Deaver Park would see renovations to its trail and playground and receive a new entry sign for $500,000. Arlington hopes to install a water well to irrigate the ball field at Cravens Park, which would also have its pond dredged and pavilion renovated if voters approve $500,000 in bond funding.
At the Harold Patterson Sports Center in south Arlington, the city seeks $4 million to reconstruct the lighted soccer fields, parking lots and concession/restroom facilities. Other improvements including creating a field with synthetic turf for special sporting events and possibly installing a pond with a fountain to create a more parklike setting for community gatherings.
The proposition also includes $3 million to make some of the estimated $16 million in renovations identified for the aging Ditto Golf Course in north Arlington.
While the bond package addresses needs across the city, District 4 Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon said she expects many residents to be excited about the planned off-leash dog park in west Arlington. The city seeks $500,000 to create the park, which is expected to feature three fenced-in areas, lighting, shaded seating areas and obstacles for the dogs to interact with.
The dog park, open to the public for free, would be located at the former Willows Condominium site on Pioneer Parkway. Using storm water fees, the city bought and tore down the condos, which were left uninhabitable because of flooding during Tropical Storm Hermine in 2010.
“It’s just perfect for a dog park,” said Wilemon, adding that the city left the parking lot in place after tearing down the condos.
Tails N’ Trails, the city’s first public dog park, opened at 950 SE Green Oaks Blvd. near the animal sheter in 2007.
Arlington’s largest previous bond package for parks projects was $37.9 million in 1997. Residents also approved $13.6 million in 2005 and $15.5 million in 2008 for parks improvements.
To see a list of all proposed items in Arlington’s Nov. 4 bond package, visit www.arlington-tx.gov/bond. Early voting runs from Oct. 20 to Oct. 31.