Denison is considering a trail system that would increase connectivity for many of its parks and other amenities while providing a new recreational attraction for the community.


Leaders recently discussed formulating a master plan for its trail systems that would help connect them with each other to form a larger transportation network.


"We are really excited to be providing services that enhance quality of life as it really is one of our main missions," Parks and Recreation Director Justin Eastwood said. "WIth that said, we feel we have a very special system and we feel we can be the premiere recreation destination for North Texas."


During last week’s annual city council budget retreat, Eastwood referred to the city’s trails and walking paths as a major amenity that can attract visitors from as far away as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.


The topography of the city, with many hills and elevation changes, along with natural corridors and water amenities creates an attractive environment that can be enhanced by bringing these resources together, he said.


"We think that a thriving local transportation system is a focal point for that. We feel that a thriving parks system is also key to improving our communities quality life."


Eastwood described a vision where residents in many neighborhoods can walk easily to common attractions and destinations with ease using a intuitive transportation system. In doing so. Eastwood said other cities have followed similar approaches that made them more attractive to residents moving from other cities or communities.


"It is a whole network of essentially people thriving in these areas and walking throughout," Eastwood said. "Those are communities people want to live in, so you typically see increases in property values and a strong housing market."


City officials said the proverbial backbone for the trail network would be the Katy Trail, which is currently under its first phase of construction. City officials said this section of the trail could connect to Texoma Health Foundation Park in the future.


This first phase will feature a 12-foot paved path stretching one mile from Day Street to Loy Lake Road, where a foot bridge will be built. The second phase will initially feature a gravel path from Loy Lake Road to Spur 503 where it will eventually go under the roadway.


The city plans to fully pave this second portion once funding becomes available. Additional phases, could increase the length of the roadway to Crawford Street, bringing it close to downtown Denison.


"Connectivity is a major factor for any of our new developments," Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Kimberly Bowen said.


Another major attraction that could be connected to the network are trails along Waterloo Lake Park. The Waterloo trail system is expected to see improvements in the near future to build out two trail heads, improve ADA accessibility and parking lot improvements, among other projects.


"We already have a strong pathway, that being the Katy Trail. Along with the Katy trail we have Waterloo park, which attracts people from outside the region to enjoy our trail," Eastwood said.


Eastwood estimated that the master plan for the trails would cost about $65,000 and take between six and 12 months to complete. During that design phase, he said he expects to have extensive community feedback on what areas should be connected and where these connection point between the various systems will be built.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.