— By JUDY SHERIDAN
The Aledo City Council on Thursday approved the Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Master Plan, concluding a $17,700 nine-month study completed by the Institute of Urban Studies at University of Texas at Arlington.
The 10-15 year plan, which engaged Aledo residents through public meetings, interviews and surveys, includes a trail system plan, five park plans and a plan for City Hall grounds. The proposed trail system extends into the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, along with suggestions for future park sites.
The master plan is intended to be a broad overview, with city officials filling in the details as funds become available. The plan will also serve as a tool for securing those funds through grant applications.
IUS Assistant Director Alan Klein thanked city staff, the parks board and residents who offered their input. “We hope that the result of all those conversations and the process that we went through as expressed in this plan really does reflect the aspirations of Aledo,” he said.
Graduate research associate and presenter Julie Wyatt said planners used the vision statement from the city’s Strategic Plan as a starting point, zeroing in on Aledo’s strong sense of community.
A trail system was the top priority for residents, she said, with a focus on the 2008 Safe Routes to School Plan and the portion that includes FM Road 1187 — a sidewalk route connecting elementary and middle schools.
Other priorities included renovating Community Center Park, the middle school trail to Community Center Park, developing Elm Street and Brown Trail Park and acquiring new park land.
Wyatt said the park concept plans show how the city might locate amenities that residents identified as important.
“As Aledo continues to grow we wanted to make sure that recreation needs were met while keeping a small-town rural community feel,” she said.
Park concept plans
The city hall grounds plan was created to complement commercial and civic areas, she said, with the economic development committee proposing a multipurpose band shell, parking, a skate spot and/or multi-use plaza, restrooms and a memorial to honor veterans.
Community Center Park is proposed as a family destination, with a splash pad, renovation of the multi-use sport court, parking, a community garden, nature trails, outdoor fitness, playground and restrooms.
Elm Street/Brown Trail, a pocket park to enhance commercial development, is programmed for seating, native landscaping and a sign highlighting Aledo’s history.
Bearcat Park, a joint facility between the city and the Aledo ISD, was left largely unchanged. Planners recommended multi-use sport courts, an asphalt parking lot, trails, picnic tables and benches.
Mockingbird Park is proposed to remain a natural area, Planners suggested renovating and extending the trail system Boy Scouts have constructed and adding a small toddler playground, barbecue grills, picnic areas and benches.
In Howard Way Park, which connects two neighborhoods, planners addressed safety issues by removing fencing and adding lighting, Wyatt said. They also suggested enlarging the park by taking in more of the right-of way and adding new playground equipment, landscaping and picnic areas.
In the trail system plan planners created five types of trails to address both connectivity and recreation.
To implement the master plan, IUS suggested grant resources, subdivision ordinance changes, optional park land sites and cost estimations.
“It’s an educational plan in the sense that it enables people to learn a great deal about themselves, what they’re capable of, about each other, about the history of the area, the environment,” Mayor Pro Tem Bill McLeRoy commented. “I see it guiding generations of children, families and grandparents. Rather than a thing, it becomes an important process.”