By Cassidy Pate, News Editor
During the Belton City Council meeting last Tuesday, Director of Parks and Recreation Matt Bates provided an overview of the proposed Heritage Park Master Plan for its land expansion of 85 acres, formerly known as the Leon Valley Golf Course. Within his presentation, Bates delivered a glimpse of the future Heritage Park developments, which will be fulfilled when Phase I is complete and funding is finalized.
“Mayor, council, it is my absolute pleasure to be here today to present something to you guys that we hope will be the vision, both of what the community wanted and also what you guys and the parks board when you met kind of agreed on,” Bates said.
The Heritage Park development will be divided into phases. Phase I will incorporate high priority items, and the remaining phases will pull the project together.
“One of the other things I had someone tell me early on was ‘you gotta make sure that you’re not designing this park for what you need right now; you need to be thinking about 30 years, 50 years down the line,’ so open space is probably my key word in everything,” Bates said.
Phase I is set to include the addition of one multi-use recreation field, which will work to reduce overcrowding with more open space on the north side of the park, and the construction of Park Lane Road for access into, through and out of Heritage Park. An enlarged soccer complex with more parking (90 spaces) and a pavilion including restroom facilities will overflow into Phase I of the park.
If the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Local Parks Non-Urban Outdoor Grant ($750 thousand in match funding – Belton applied for a waiver of retroactivity to cover their portion) is approved, then the combined total of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and the grant will be approximately $5.1 million.
The grant submission deadline is Dec. 4, so results are expected in the spring of 2020. In addition, the total combined projected expenditures for the Phase I Park is $4.3 million, with $2.5 million being allocated to Phase I and $1.8 million allotted to Park Lane improvements.
The Leon River, or, as Bates describes, “the asset we could not pass up,” runs along the outside of Heritage Park and is going to be developed into usable water recreation space, fit with a fish camp and dock.
Native grass patterns will be mowed and maintained, as well as the existing disc golf course.
A one-mile, concrete loop trail (proposed to be made out of decomposed granite) that connects to existing Heritage Park trails will be created, and new walking/hiking trails and a dog park are recommendations.
In addition, a family, open-air pavilion and outdoor patio will be assembled on the west side. Activity hub zones, including an amphitheater (covered pavilion) on the east side of the park, splash feature and food trucks are also included in the Heritage Park Master Plan.
Pecan Grove will be preserved as an event or picnic lawn.
“Pecan Grove is easily one of my favorite areas of the park; it is naturally beautiful; there isn’t a whole lot we would have to do to that area, but it could be used for so much,” Bates said.
Likewise, the council agreed that the land should be preserved in every way possible rather than paving over it, which is why the majority of Phase I is dedicated to enhancing what we have.
“I’m impressed with all of it; I think it looks good; it’s good use, and I know the overwhelming discussion in our joint meeting was as much natural space as we could possibly keep, and it looks like you’ve done that and also provide some amenities that would be favorable to the community and park, so good job all the way around,” Mayor Marion Grayson said.
With that, Belton City Council unanimously voted in favor of the Heritage Park Master Plan.