By Elizabeth Varville, Correspondent
The Parks and Recreation Department, governed by the City of Belton, offers many programs and services for the residents of Belton and the surrounding communities. Housed in the Harris Community Center in Belton, the department’s mission is to provide clean, safe, and well-maintained outdoor recreation space, park lands and recreational programming to the citizens of Belton. Christmas on the Chisholm Trail; Daddy Daughter Dance; Family, Fishin’, Fun; Movie in the Park; and the Legacy Program are among many of the events and programs sponsored by the department.
According to beltontexas.gov, the Legacy Program is a gift that provides a unique way to honor others through the beautification of parks and areas throughout the City of Belton. Each donation will offer a sense of belonging to the community while improving the quality of life and leaving a lasting benefit to future generations.
“I believe this is a program that is very important to the Belton community and I am very excited to be a part of it. The Legacy Program is not very well-known in the community and I believe it is a program that needs to be promoted,” said Belton resident Robyn Doyal.
According to the Parks and Recreation Department, the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce initiated the program in response to several requests from residents who wanted to participate in a tree or bench dedication program similar to programs offered in the larger cities of Austin and San Antonio. The development of the program was given to the Leadership Belton Program’s Class of 1999. The program consisted of two phases. Phase One provided for the annual planting of a native tree in one of the City’s parks in honor of the recipients of the two Chamber recognitions, Beltonian and Citizen of the Year. Phase Two is what is currently known as the Belton Legacy Program. The City Council of Belton approved the program Nov. 12, 2003 and the first customer was former City of Belton Mayor Bill Homes; his Bur Oak tree was planted in Chisholm Trail Park Jan. 28, 2004.
Program participants may choose to donate a tree and/or a park bench in an approved location. Participants are able to choose from 12 tree species to include Texas Red Oak, Cedar Elm, and Bald Cypress. Each of the tree species have been researched to ensure the compatibility with area growth and weather conditions; this increases the tree’s chance of survival after planting. The City Parks and Recreation Department will help individuals select an appropriate species and location for their tree. The City will assemble, install, and maintain responsibility of the items. A dedication ceremony may be conducted upon request. Each participate will receive a certificate of planting signed by the Mayor and City Manager and a location map for the tree.
There are currently 4 park bench styles offered through the program which include stone, metal, powder-coated steel, and geometric tree. Pavilions with picnic units, pocket parks and playground equipment are also available for donation opportunities.
Many of these lasting gifts can be seen throughout the city of Belton. For more information, please visit www.beltontexas.gov or call 254-933-5861.