The city of Willow Park made history Tuesday night when the council unanimously approved the first ever parks master plan.
City staff and civil engineering firm Pacheco Koch began working on the WP Parks and Trails Master Plan in November 2018 by developing a steering committee and gaining resident input through a survey and public town hall meeting.
“This is an exciting moment. We started this journey back in November and the steering committee went over aspects of what we wanted to see with Pacheco Koch as far as a parks master plan and as far as how it would look for the city of Willow Park,” WP Assistant City Manager Bernie Parker said. “It’s the first parks master plan for the city of Willow Park and upon adoption, it would serve you for five years. After five years, you go ahead and implement another one.”
More than 400 residents participated in a survey as to what they would like to see developed and the top seven identified were playgrounds, walking and biking trails, a nature area, picnic facilities, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts and a splash pad.
“As a staff we were really excited to join Willow Park in this venture and we got a lot of really good input through the different communications — the citizen survey, the steering committee — and it helped us find out more about Willow Park and what the needs look like,” Pacheco Koch Land Planner and Urban Designer Eric Wilhite said. “The top seven priorities were pretty consistent with the survey and the community input that we found, sometimes that doesn’t always happen.”
The approval of the parks master plan will now allow the city to apply for grants through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the North Texas Council of Governments.
“The Local Park Grant Program consists of five individual programs that assist local units of government with the acquisition and/or development of public recreation area and facilities through the state of Texas,” according to the TPWD website. “The program provides 50 percent matching grants on a reimbursement basis to eligible applicants. Funding for the Local Park Gran Program comes from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account and the Texas Large County & Municipality Recreation & Parks Account. Additional funds come from off-shore gas royalties through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
WP Mayor Pro Tem Lea Young said following the approval they will be accepting applications for the parks board.
“Now that we’ve finished our parks and trails master plan, it’s time to reassess our parks board ordinance and get applications, those are annual,” Young said. “We’ll hopefully get applications on our next agenda, so that will be all existing parks members as well as anyone interested in serving. One of the things we’ve kicked around is not quarterly meetings, but monthly meetings.”
For more details on the WP Parks Master Plan, visit willowpark.org.