The Belton Journal

Last Friday morning, the City of Belton had a ceremony to commemorate the completion of Phase 1 of the Heritage Park Expansion.

The dedication ceremony was held at the newly installed park monument sign at the corner of E. 24th Avenue and Hilltop Street.

Several local residents gathered at the park, which originally opened to the public back in April 1988.

Looking around as he spoke to residents of the community and other dignitaries, City Manager Sam Listi remarked, “Rarely does a single project meet all seven goals outlined in the city’s strategic plan, but Heritage Park does. It addresses governance, public safety, quality of life, economic development, connectivity, parks and natural beauty and service delivery.”

The original portion of Heritage Park was made up of 65 acres. For 36 years, the park has been the largest in the Belton Parks system and home to baseball, soccer, playgrounds, kayaking, and fishing.

Expansion of Heritage Park began in May 2018 when the Belton City Council approved the $2.1 million purchase of 84.25 acres of additional land, the former Leon River Valley Golf Course, situated next to Heritage Park. The Leon River Valley Golf Course operated from 1968 until 2009.

In August 2020, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission awarded the City of Belton a $750,000 grant for enhancements to the park expansion area.

Alongside this grant, the city invested an additional $5.25 million from the Tax Incremental Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ).

The design was finalized and construction began in October 2022. The park expansion was completed in March 2024.

With the purchase of the 84.25 acres, the park has grown from 65 acres to 150 acres.

The expansion offers an additional entrance into the park, zero depth kayak launch, fishing pier, additional multipurpose fields, family concession area and restrooms.

Additionally, Phase 1 includes Belton’s first dog park, an 18-hole disc golf course upgrade that has hosted several national tournaments, more hiking trails, a new road (Park Lane), a parking lot, and a total of 268 parking spaces were added. The enhancements aim to ensure that Heritage Park remains the largest park in the area.

“Heritage Park has been central to Belton and surrounding communities since 1988. We appreciate the opportunity to serve as stewards of this great park for our citizens and neighbors,” said Belton Mayor David Leigh. “We look forward to celebrating the recent additions, which improve the park’s utility, and acknowledge the continued partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife through its generous grant.”

Mayor Leigh described how the features in the expansion of the park center around Leon River.

Assistant City Manager Matt Bates acknowledged the positive impact that significant park enhancements will have on the community.

“I am so proud of all the hard work many employees have put into this project,” Bates said. “Everything we wanted to do was coming in around $7 million. So, we had some tough choices. There are some things that got bumped to a future phase. But we addressed our critical needs.”

At the conclusion of the dedication, guests were transported via golf carts to see the park enhancements.

Councilmember Daniel Bucher explained that plans for the future phases include a one-mile circuit loop trail, a family pavilion, fishing ponds and possibly an event venue.