Planning and development of Denison’s new $14 million Texoma Health Foundation Park took a step forward Monday night when the City Council approved a number of agreements related to the project. These agreements include the sale of $7.475 million in bonds and adjustments to the city’s budget for the project.

Planning and development of Denison’s new $14 million Texoma Health Foundation Park took a step forward Monday night when the City Council approved a number of agreements related to the project. These agreements include the sale of $7.475 million in bonds and adjustments to the city’s budget for the project.


"This is the culmination of a lot of work with our development partners at TPJ Properties," Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said.


The project will represent a partnership between the city and the Texoma Health Foundation; THF will provide nearly $8 million in funding for the project. Gateway Village will assist by providing the land and nearly $2 million in infrastructure upgrades to the site.


"The community and region will get a $14 million amenity for only $3 million," Johnson said.


During the meeting, the council approved the sale of bonds for the project, to partially finance THF and the city’s $7.475 million portion of the project. Finance Director Renee Waggoner said the city will use $108,000 from expired tax abatements to pay off this debt over the course of 10 years. The remaining balance for the bonds will be repaid to the city by THF over the next decade.


The city will also use $1 million cash on hand to help pay for its part of the project.


The 10-year bond will be through the Independent Bankers Bank with an interest rate of 1.89 percent. The city received four other bids, including one for 1.81 percent. However, the bid from Independent Bankers had no additional expenses and would allow the city to pay off its debt ahead of schedule at no expense, making it a good deal, Boyd London, managing director of First Southwest, said.


"We think it is important for the city to have that flexibility," he said.


The council was originally expected to vote on the bonds for the project in March, and again in April but tabled the request until the land for the project was transferred to the city.


"With a project of this size and scope, some delays are to he expected," Johnson said.


In a separate action, the city amended its budget to reflect this new project. Of the remaining $2 million, $1 million has been allocated from the city’s rainy day fund to the park bond fund. Of this, nearly $300,000 has already been spent on designing expenses, City Manager Jud Rex said.


Additional funding will include $500,000 from the city’s general fund, $125,000 from the water and sewer fund and $300,000 from the street bond fund.


Johnson said the design phase is currently 50 percent complete, and he expects work on the site to start in about 60 days. If weather is not an issue, Johnson predicted the park will open in late 2017.


The 80-acre park, near the intersection of FM 691 and U.S. Highway 75, will feature five baseball and softball fields, multiuse sports fields, playgrounds, sand volleyball courts and more than two-and-a-half miles of walking and biking trails. At full development, the park will connect to an additional ten miles of trails going through Gateway Village, Johnson said.


When the city announced the project in November, Johnson said the project represented a focus on overall wellness and health for not only Denison residents of all ages and socioeconomic background, but all of Texoma. The idea came from a number of citizen surveys that requested similar amenities.