Representatives with Texoma Health Foundation presented Denison officials with a check for $793,519 toward the city’s new Texoma Health Foundation Park.
Tuesday’s presentation represents the fourth of 10 payments by the foundation for its partnership with the city for the development of the regional park and sports complex. Tuesday’s presentation was the first one to take place since the opening of the park last summer.
“The biggest presentation was when we announced the project, but we made another at the DDA,” THF President Michelle Lemming said Tuesday afternoon. “However, with this we are almost halfway there.”
The city first announced that it would be partnering with THF and the developers of Gateway Village in order to build the $17 million project in late 2015. At the time, THF announced it would be providing nearly $8 million toward the project in the form of 10 annual payments. In total, between construction, land and other expenses, the project was valued at about $16.22 million when it reached closeout last year.
Among those in attendance Tuesday afternoon was new Parks and Recreation Director Justin Eastwood, who joined the city as the manager for THF Park in April 2018.
“Thank you all for working hand-in-hand on this project — it is hard to believe it has been a full year,” Eastwood said, referring to his time with the city.
During the park’s first year, Eastwood said Denison plans to move forward with several league sports, including youth and adult soccer, little league baseball and softball. The city is also expected to start fitness programs with Republic Fitness in late February.
Eastwood said he is looking at other opportunities later in the year to bring speakers on wellness or other clinic activities to the park’s schedule. These components would extend into mental health and wellness as a way for THF to provide for total wellness of visitors.
“General park usage has been a staple at THF Park since its inception,” Eastwood said. “At any given time, there are children playing on playgroundw, walkers or bikers using one of the awesome trails, families playing, exercisers utilizing the outdoor workout equipment, and it is not unlikely to see someone playing an instrument or reading a book on a bench or at the volleyball lounge area.”
With the park complete, Lemming said THF may soon consider another major project under its place-based philanthropy programs, but said it is still too far out to speculate on what and where that project might be. She did say it might be another two years before THF is ready to announce the next follow-up project.
“What’s beautiful about these programs is that it is open to the needs of the whole community,” she said. “It truly is open to possibilities.”
Denison City Manager Jud Rex said construction may have finished but work and development on the park will still continue. Rex said THF is still considering other amenities that could be added to the park in its undeveloped green space.
“I think the construction is done, for now, but now we are focusing on park optimization and marketing,” Rex said.