Dogs could be running, playing and chasing each other by the end of the year in the city’s first dog park. And a food truck park could be coming to downtown.
Construction crews from Ratliff Hardscape of Lewisville are scheduled to start working by the end of June. The five-paddock dog park could be open by November.
The 10-acre dog park is planned on the old Ralph Man property at 604 W. Broad Street west of downtown. Coinciding with the dog park construction will be the restoration of the Man House into an historical museum that provides a glimpse at what life was like 150 years ago when the city’s co-founder lived there. Fundraising is ongoing for that project and it’s scheduled to be completed by December.
The heavily wooded property will connect to the final phase of the Walnut Creek Linear Park near the creek on the north side.
The City Council awarded the $817,627 contract with a 4-2 vote last month. Some of that park contract is actually for parking lots, lighting, water lines and other infrastructure that the dog park and Man House will use.
Still, council members Julie Short and Mike Leyman had reservations about the cost and location.
“I am not anti dog park. I think we have more high priority needs,” Leyman said. “I would be voting against this for that reason.”
Mansfield parks director Matt Young said the city reduced the cost by rebidding it and removing some features, such as lighting inside the dog park.
“We’re right at $200,000 cheaper than we were two months ago,” Young said. “We’re bringing essentially the same project in a more cost effective delivery method.”
The city also reduced costs by having park staff purchasing some items itself, such as trash cans, dog waste stations and fencing, and having either the contractor or their employees install it. The total cost for the additional items is $163,000.
Mayor David Cook praised city staff for saving taxpayer money.
“I want to say, great job and appreciate you taking the time,” Cook said. “Obviously, the couple months made a huge difference.”
Short said the dog park should be put in an existing park rather than a standalone feature.
“There’s an area where it’s a dog park, you’ve got baseball fields and equipment that kids can play on and you’ve got a parking lot, lighting and restroom already available,” Short said. “I don’t know if it’s the best use of money to just have a dog park and not have anything else that people can use.”
Young has said previously that the city survey found the site on West Broad to be the best because it has an existing tree canopy rather than an open field with no shade.
The dog park will be located about a mile from the 138-acre site the city just bought on Hanks Street south of West Broad Street. That future park would be the biggest in the city and would have a variety of uses.
Food truck park could be another downtown attraction
New businesses have already revitalized Main Street in downtown but just behind that main strip on Walnut Street there are old warehouses and parking lots but nothing to really draw people in.
Open Range Properties Shane Farrar, the developer, plans to change that with the new Lumberyard Food Truck and Bar project. The project at 107 Walnut Street will feature parking for food trucks, a bar, retail, offices, an arcade hall, a stage for live music and a barbecue smoker.
The barbecue pit will fit right in for Mansfield, where Frontier High School just competed in the Texas High School Barbecue State Finals last month. The food truck park will have a rustic design to fit in with downtown. Farrar said he envisions pool tables, Jenga blocks, lifesize checks, cornhole and other outdoor games for people to play.
Creating a gathering place within downtown is a key tenet for the downtown master plan under development now.
The council approved the project 5-1 with Leyman voting no on second reading. The project returned to the council June 10 for a final vote.
Leyman said he would prefer the city pass a food truck ordinance that governs health code requirements, sales tax collection and point-of-sale before approving this food truck park.
A common criticism of food trucks is that there’s less capital cost to start a food truck than a brick and mortar restaurant.
“I want to be sure we keep the field level for the businesses that are downtown to be able to compete,” Leyman said. “Right now, I just believe there’s too many loopholes currently that I would like to see addressed in a food truck ordinance to close those before we proceed further.”
Former councilman Cory Hoffman said this downtown project has come a long way since in a decade and this would be another draw.
“A lot of us worked very hard together to redevelop downtown and reinvest in projects down there,” Hoffman said. “If [parking and overcrowding] are some of the things we’re really worried about, I think that’s a good sign that this is going to be a successful project.”
The council also wanted to be sure the Lumberyard wouldn’t be open too late on weeknights. Farrar said he would be flexible on the hours for Sunday through Thursday.