As construction of Denison’s new $16 million regional park approaches completion, city officials are now preparing for the next step. The city plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. Aug. 14, for the Texoma Health Foundation Park with the grand opening ceremony on Aug. 18.

City Manager Jud Rex said in the two weeks leading up to the opening crews with Piazza construction will be completing the final touches, noting that the project is more than 90 percent complete.

“Between now and the ribbon cutting, the construction crews have landscaping and really just tidying up to do,” he said.

The regional park, located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and Spur 503 was originally announced in 2015 after discussions on the creation of a regional sports complex that would feature tournament-level facilities. The park represents a partnership between the city and Texoma Health Foundation, which are jointly funding the project, and the developers of Gateway Village, which donated land toward the project.

The park sits on nearly 80 acres and will feature five tournament-level baseball-softball fields surrounding a main plaza, with additional multiuse playing fields, sand volleyball, playgrounds and walking trails. As a part of the theme of wellness at all ages, the trails will connect to other trail systems in the greater Gateway Village development.

For the park’s opening day, Rex said the city plans to highlight the theme of health and wellness with a series of events, including the United Way’s annual Hustle for Health 5K/10K races and fundraiser.

“We are thrilled to be the inaugural race at the Texoma Health Foundation Regional Park,” Stephanie Chandler, interim executive director of the United Way of Grayson County, said.

Denison Parks and Recreation Director Chris Mobley added that the grand opening will also feature clinics and lessons with various sports organizations covering the region.

City officials started the final steps in the construction phase in June when the city approved the hiring of eight staff members to operate and manage the park. Earlier this year, the city officially appointed Justin Eastwood as the manager for the new park project.

During the same meeting, city council members approved a more than $650,000 change order to the project that represented some of the final costs and expenses for the project.

With construction expected to complete in the coming days, Rex said the last final piece of major construction is work on the plaza, which was held until late in the project as to not disturb the concrete throughout construction. Rex said this final piece of concrete was finally laid about two weeks ago.

Despite not expecting any other significant changes or additions to the park inn the bear future, Rex said the city is working to acquire additional land in the floodplain along Iron Ore Creek for additional trails.

“I think where we will really see expansion is with the programs taking place in the park,” he said.

With the park preparing to open, Rex said this marks a major point not only for the city of Denison but also for the entire region. With the park, Rex said the city and county can use it as a selling point for the quality of life in Denison and as a major amenity when looking to recruit new businesses and residents.

“Denison wants to be a community of choice, and to do that you need the amenities that make Denison that choice,” Rex said.

With the potential to hold major tournaments, Rex added that the park also has some opportunities to promote economic development in the city.

A larger softball tournament can bring between 20 to 70 teams to Denison over the course of three days. These athletes and their families will then sleep in Denison hotels, eat at local restaurants and visit local events and attractions, he said. With the expected addition of HeyDay Entertainment later this year in Gateway Village, Rex said he hopes that the park could have a positive effect on growth within the development.

Mobley said the city has been working to recruit and partner with organizations for these events, noting that most schedule ahead by about 6 to 12 months. The city is also working to with local organizations to fill its programming schedule. Among the early partners, who are expected to start in September are the Texoma Soccer Association, Denison Little League and Denison Girl’s Softball, he said.