Sherman is moving forward with plans for $4.5 million in construction on a new athletic complex west of Pecan Grove Park and $625,000 on other improvements to city parks and facilities.

The city will soon begin advertising for a construction manager-at-risk for the athletic complex work based on a design by park planners Dunkin, Sims, Stoffels, Inc. The Pecan Grove Athletic Complex will include four baseball and softball fields, a large soccer area that could incorporate multiple fields at once, and some neighborhood park features such as a splash pad, playground and pavilion.

“This is a two-phased project, the first phase will include the four ball fields and then a wide-open green space that will include soccer fields,” Parks & Recreation Manager Theresa Hutchinson said. “In that space, there’s enough area to handle all of the fields that we currently have at Fairview (Park) plus five or six smaller fields in addition.”

Hutchinson said the addition of the new soccer field would allow the ones currently at Fairview Park to become practice space. The baseball and softball fields will be on one side of the complex with each one’s outfields pointing in a different direction. Two of the fields would be 200 feet to the outfield fence and the other two would be 225 feet.

“The second phase would include the spray ground, the playground, lighting for the fields and all of the park amenities to the east,” Hutchinson said.

City Manager Robby Hefton said Terrence Steele, the city’s director of administration, recently reached out to the Texoma Health Foundation, who has partnered with the developers of Gateway Village in Denison for the planned Texoma Health Foundation Park, to inquire about the organization’s interest in participating in Sherman’s park expansion.

“It was a good conversation,” Hefton said. “I think all we can say right now is summertime is when we would have more conversation about it — that’s when their grant period is. We know that they’re interested in regional products, so we reached out to them to see if they would be willing to partner with possibly helping out with the phase two of this project. So more to come on that.”

The Pecan Grove Athletic Complex is part of $5.125 million Sherman is spending on city parks as part of the fiscal year 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Program. Of the remaining $625,000, $500,000 is being used for additional park improvements recommended as part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan process, $50,000 was used for new playground equipment at Ely Park, $50,000 went to a walking path at Fairview Park and $25,000 was spent on green space near Lamar Street.

“The city purchased about 12 acres on the western edge of the city there on Lamar Street, where the old mobile homes were that were kind of an eyesore,” Hutchinson said of the green space. “We’ve already gone in and cleared out some of the space. We plan on adding a natural surface walking trail through the area.”

Hutchinson said the “best thing” about the project is its proximity to Binkley Park, Center Street Park and the Lamar Street playground.

“So we hope to in the future someday be able to bridge across the creek so we can extend our biking trails,” she said.

Hutchinson said the $500,000 being used for additional park improvements will address the top three things recommended as part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan process — hiking and biking trails, a new skate park and a dog park. The city is spending $250,000 on the skate park at Hawn Park, $30,000 on a dog park at Fairview Park and $85,000 on items related to the hiking and biking trails. The remaining $135,000 is being used for additional upgrades and playground updates.

The hiking and biking trails work includes $30,000 on a lighting project for the Fairview Park walking path, $15,000 on a new bridge for the trail at Baker Park and $40,000 on planning and signage for the city’s bicycle trail plan. Hutchinson said the city is also working on creating a Bike and Trail Master Plan. Hefton said city staff has addressed Sherman’s plans for a Bike and Trail Master Plan with the Texas Department of Transportation in relation to its planned work on U.S. Highway 75.

“We’ll see what that’s going to reveal in terms of their actual design, but we’ve let them know our desire is to have places where we can safely cross the (Hwy.) 75 corridor,” Hefton said. “We think and are hopeful that whatever the ultimate design ends up being is going to be one that can let us connect parks and connect other things from both sides of town. Right now, it’s hard — you can go over the little catwalk, but it’s just not a very good designated route and safe route.”