Copperas Cove parks projects move forward

Cove Leader-Press

Copperas Cove’s parks have had new parking lots under construction this year, and next up for City Park will be new bathrooms. 
Copperas Cove’s Parks & Recreation director, Joe Brown, recently provided information at the department’s quarterly town hall meeting about the multi-phase parks improvement plan that got under way in early 2018. 
As far as bathrooms are concerned, with the start of phase 2 of the parks project, that will begin soon. 
“We cannot replace all the bathrooms we have proposed, but we’re really looking to replace at least three in city park with phase 2,” said Brown, adding that he will be bringing information to the city council soon about proposed replacements. 
The bathrooms to be replaced will be beside Fields 2 and 3 at City Park, and the bathrooms near the pavilion that is wets of city Park pool, along with the restroom beside Field 4. Future restrooms in phase 3 to be replaced by Fields 6 and 7, and 8. 
Quality Contractors has been working on the parking lots as part of phase 1 of the project, which are also helping to address ADA issues within the parks during that first phase, Brown said. Each of the parks have had monument signs installed.
Rain has been the biggest factor in the delay since the beginning, said Brown. 
“We’ve had nothing but rain since starting construction. It’s kind of a joke, but not really,” he said. “The rain has impacted Quality Contractors’ ability to move forward, but we’ve been pretty reflexive and we’ve done a good job in working with Quality Contractors and BSP to manage these projects the best we can through the rain.” 
Presently the parking lots at Ogletree Gap and South Park are being installed, with the curb and gutter in place. 
Brown said that as the phased improvements have begun, the department has also started working on a parks master plan. 
“In recognizing that the City of Copperas Cove has never drafted a parks master plan, we thought it was very prudent and important to draft a plan that the community could leverage in years to come. 
That’s one of the most important pieces as it relates to quality of life and parks and recreation in the city of Copperas Cove.” 
The future master plan will also come about through community input and participation via surveys and meetings. 
“It will involve an inventory of park facilities, what do we have, not have, what does it look like? What’s the condition? What’s the lifecycle of what we have?”
Brown said that the plan is different than the needs assessment that was completed approximately 10 years ago, with not much from that having changed because the city hadn’t done any improvements since that assessment was completed. 
A plan will identify opportunities, like Ogletree Gap Park. 
“Ogletree Gap is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to make something that Copperas Cove has never had, and other cities in our area don’t have, and that’s a large, passive park. We have the opportunity to do a largescale hike and bike trails. How do we leverage that with the parks master plan?” 
He gave kudos to the Ogletree Hike & Bike workgroup which has spent the past several months clearing a trail that’s about three miles in length. 
Brown said the plan will also identify deficiencies in the park system. 
“Our park infrastructure is really, really old. We have two pool systems and we’re coming off best pool season in a long time. but our pools are old.” He also said facilities like the civic center are older, and that the South Park hike and bike trail is also old.
Where parking lot and trails projects are concerned, there is approximately $1.5 million in unpaved parking lots in city park, and Brown hopes to see that remedied in the years 2022 and 2023, calling that a priority. He is planning to propose $2.2 million for trails in the parks in 2022, with $1 million in parking lots in 2023.

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