Commission approves master plan to upgrade parks

HARLINGEN — The city will follow a 10-year guide to upgrade the community’s parks.

Last night, city commissioners approved a master plan that helps prioritize projects planned for the city’s parks system.

“It’s a road map for us to move forward with the growth of the city,” parks Director Javier Mendez told commissioners.

Consultants Halff & Associates used community workshops and surveys to develop the 79-page plan over a one-year period.

“This is a great document which assesses our available assets and needs for the future,” Mayor Chris Boswell said. “This is a long-range blueprint to develop our parks for the community.”

Now, Mendez said, he will present the plan to Texas Parks & Wildlife officials for approval, which would make the city eligible for the agency’s grant funding.

For about a year, the city did not have an active plan filed with the agency, Mendez said in an earlier interview.

Mendez said the city began to work on the plan in 2013 but did not complete the document before the previous plan expired in 2015.

The plan’s review prevented its completion in 2015, said Mendez, who took the job in 2014.

“We’re going to be working on some grant applications,” Mendez told commissioners.

Officials did not have information on the plan’s cost readily available.

The plan comes with a $43 million wish list of parks improvements, Mendez said.

Long-range goals include construction of an indoor recreation center with a cost of $7.5 million to $10 million.

Major projects include the completion of the Arroyo Colorado Trail from Dixieland Park to Hugh Ramsey Nature Park. Project costs range from $2.5 million to $5 million.

Other major projects include the expansion of the Harlingen Soccer Complex, with costs ranging from $2.5 million to $3 million, and development of a nature center to cost $1 million to $3 million.

Among parks improvements, the plan lists the Harlingen Soccer Complex’s proposals as “very high,” with an overall price tag of $2.5 million to $4 million. The proposed project includes the overlay of existing fields, development of fields and improvement of a walking trial.

At Arroyo Park, high priority projects include the lighting of two youth athletic fields, the addition of volleyball courts, the development of a practice field and new bleachers. Project costs range from $500,000 to $750,000.

The plan lists new bleachers and sod at Victor Park’s football field as part of a high priority project while recommending the replacement of the swimming pool’s concrete deck and filtration system. Overall costs range from $1.5 million to $2 million project.

At Harlingen Lake, high priority projects with costs of $200,000 to $250,000 include improvement of the asphalt trail while extending it to complete a one-mile loop around the lake. The project includes the installation of exercise equipment and lighting improvements.

At Pendleton Park, high priority projects include parking lot overlays, the replacement of the swimming pool building’s roof and insulation along with the installation of a ventilation system. Overall costs range from $1 million to $3 million.

Other high priority projects include erecting a monument sign or message board to promote city events at McKelvey Park along with parking lot overlays and renovation of an electrical system as part of an overall $500,000 to $2 million project.

At Lon C. Hill Park, high priority projects include construction of an all-inclusive play area, the addition of volleyball courts, construction of a large pavilion and replacement of the swimming pool’s roof.

At many parks, the plan recommends the installation of automated irrigation systems.

Funding sources include the city’s general fund, sales tax money earmarked for economic development, grants, bond issues and donations.