Sherman is moving forward with plans for a dog park, skate park and connected hiking and biking trails at city parks.
Those items were among the priorities in the 2017 Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan the City Council unanimously adopting during its meeting Monday. Director of Public Services Steve Ayers said the approximately year of work on the master plan was a collaboration between the community, the Parks and Recreation Board, city staff and community planners. The Parks and Recreation Department also worked with Dunkin, Sims, Stoffels, Inc. to set priorities in the master plan for future developments at city parks and facilities.
“We visited each one of your parks and we made a checklist of items that could be improved in those,” Dennis Sims of park planners Dunkin, Sims, Stoffels, Inc., said. “Each year, if you wanted to budget money for renovating these facilities, then we’ve given you a listing.”
Those recommendations range from $5,000 for four park benches at Lucy Kidd-Key Park to around $1.2 million for a new restroom/concession stand and parking lot expansion at Fairview Park.
Among the recommended improvements, Hillcrest Park had the longest list, which totaled $742,000. The bulk of that expense would come from replacing the existing playground equipment with two modular playgrounds and swings, and site work and concrete improvements. A new drinking fountain, pedestrian lights, eight benches and a 30-foot pavilion are also recommended at the park.
Sims said the hiking and biking trails were a major request from the public, but his firm also did an analysis of the city’s existing land use and feels more parks will be needed to keep up with growth.
“We’re projecting that you’re going to need approximately 10 more neighborhood parks as you develop out into the fringe of your city limits,” Sims said, adding that as the city expands outside its current limits, it’ll need even more parks. “Outside your city limits, based on land use and existing development, we’re projecting that you’re going to need another 29 neighborhood parks as you develop.”
During a pair of public input meetings held last year, participants expressed the most support for a dog park, a skate park, and hiking and biking trails among a list of amenities that could be added to a Sherman park.
Hiking and biking trails were listed as the No. 1 priority by the public participants in the planning stage. It is also the top priority listed on the city’s 10-year action plan for outdoor facilities. City staff listed the timing for work on the trails being between 2017 and 2019 at a cost of $300,000 per mile. The skate park is listed as priority No. 13 on the action plan, with work slated to take place between this year and 2020.
The potential dog park is listed as the 16th priority on the action plan, with an estimated cost of $100,000 to $300,000. Work on the dog park is expected to get underway this year and continue into 2019.
“I hope that everyone will be excited to bring a dog park to town,” Parks and Recreation Manager Theresa Hutchinson said via email. “A location has not yet been determined. My plan is to bring together a committee of Sherman citizens to help plan the dog park. I expect the planning to begin (in the) early fall.”
Sims also suggested park dedication ordinances as an effective tool to acquiring that need park land.
“We are actually already using this tool to some degree,” City Manager Robby Hefton said. “But as we expand west and north, we already kind of have our eyes on some general areas where we’re going to need community parks and neighborhood parks and things like that. Our goal would be to work with developers to get that land because it’s good for development as well, to get that land ahead of time, whether we need it in two years or 20 years.”
The council adopted the decision after also holding a public hearing on the master plan, but no one from the public came forward to speak on the matter. Hefton said city staff will discuss specific projects for city parks during the council’s upcoming budget workshop this summer.