Denison formally annexes Loy Park

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The Mayor arena at Loy Park fills up as the goat showing gets underway in 2017.  The city finalized efforts to bring Loy Park into Denison this week when it formally annexed the property into Denison.

Efforts by Denison to incorporate Loy Lake Park into the city concluded this week as city leaders formally annexed the property into the city. The Denison City Council quietly formalized the annexation during a meeting Monday night as a part of the consent agenda with no individual discussion.

The annexation came nearly four months after the city and Grayson County announced plans to transfer the park from county to city ownership in an effort to make best use of the 200-acre site.

"Loy Lake Park is in the center of our community and it sets directly in our path for our growth. We are going to grow organically moving west from Highway 75 and quite frankly, we couldn't stop it if we wanted to. As it sits right now, Loy Lake has very little opportunity improvement but so much potential to become a point of pride in our region," Mayor Janet Gott said late last year.

The park was originally built  in the 1930s through the Civilian Conservation Corps as a part of New Deal work programs. In the years since, the park has become the home for the Grayson County Frontier Village and Texoma Exposition & Livestock Show, among other uses.

The move to transition the park to city ownership centered on discussions related to the best use for the property as the region is experiencing a period of growth and development.

In December, county officials said the transfer would allow Grayson County  to save about $80,000 a year on costs for the park through the transfer. Despite this expense, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said this wasn't enough to finance improvements and needed upgrades at the park.

Denison Mayor Janet Gott said last year that multi-use trails, parks and green spaces are a growing desire of residents in Denison and a common request shown in city plans and resident surveys. With the growth coming to Denison, it made sense for the city to pursue ownership.

"I share that with you because we have a demographic now that is becoming larger and larger that want to practice healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families outdoors," Gott said in December.

Since the announcement, the city has taken steps to integrate the park into the city's system, including trash pickup, park maintenance and road work. However, more extensive projects and improvements will be added in the years to come, Interim City Manager Bobby Atteberry said.

"It will just be the day-to-day maintenance that starts taking place now," Atteberry said. "As the TIRZ starts adding up funds over the next few years we can start adding in projects."

Atteberry referred to a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone that was put in place over the park and nearby areas as a way to raise funds for the park improvements. A TIRZ sets aside a portion of property taxes raised in the zone for the purposes of financing projects and improvements within the zone's border. The theory behind a TIRZ is that more funds will be contributed as projects are financed and property values increase. This in turn will be used to finance future improvements.

The city has not listed any specific projects that are in store for the park in the future, but Atteberry listed equipment repairs and dam work as possibilities this week.

"Now if we just had some money growing in that TIRZ, we would do some things out there," he said.

The city spared no time in approving changes at the park. In the same meeting, the council approved a change to the city's ordinance regarding alcohol consumption to allow it at the park. The request was made initially for the likestock grounds, however representatives for Frontier Village asked that their property also receive the same exception. The amended request was approved unanimously.