Parks & Rec provides updates at town hall meeting

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press

On Wednesday evening, the Copperas Cove Parks & Recreation Department held its quarterly town hall meeting to inform residents about park programs, improvements and upcoming events. 
Parks & Recreation Director Joe Brown said that the city has received five bids for the first phase of parks improvements. 
 “The bids are currently being scored and we hope to have the bids to present to the city council at its November 7 meeting,” Brown said. 
Brown said that originally the department was planning to improve the city’s eight parks one by one, in fiscal years 2017 through 2021. However, after BSP Engineers completed its surveys of all eight parks, the firm recommended it would cost less to improve the parks by project type instead of park by park.
For the first phase of improvements, parking lots, sidewalks, walking trails and monument signs will be the focus. 
Brown made note of future new parking lots for City Park, along with the creation of approximately three miles of walking trail that will go around the park. Other parks in the city will also have walking trails created, with Kate Street also to have fitness stations installed. 
The plan is, Brown said, to roll anything that is not completed one year into the following year’s projects. 
Phase two will include improvements to restrooms, concessions and storage areas at City Park, South Park, and High Chaparral, along with any phase one projects not completed.  Other phases include work on pavilions, playgrounds, security lighting, multi-purpose fields, and farther along, a free-access splash pad in City Park, although Brown doesn’t know exactly where that will be just yet.
Brown noted that the Copperas Cove Rotary Club has already donated two new pavilions toward the park improvements.
For the first round of improvements, the Copperas Cove city council approved the funding via certificate of obligation bonds in June 2017, amounting to $1,965,589. The City of Copperas Cove has over $3.9 million in planned improvements for the city’s park system. 
Brown also touched on another improvement for the department, saying one of the big things the department has “worked exceedingly hard on” over the past two years has been improving communication between it and residents. 
“Are we there yet? No, but these are some big things,” Brown said, noting the department has worked on website redesign, Team Sideline page, athletic calendars, is using its Facebook page to provide real-time information, publishes the Cove Buzz monthly newsletter and quarterly recreation guide, holds quarterly town hall meetings, and has monthly meetings with the parental focus group.
Brown said the parent group was started a little over a year ago, is run by the recreation supervisor, is open to anybody and does not go through city council. 
“That group really started because we had a lot of angry people early on when I first got here. We really noticed we weren’t getting the communication out,” Brown said. 
Also during themeeting, Nic Cantrell, the city’s recreation supervisor, talked about upcoming and past events for the department, including tomorrow’s Howl-o-Ween Puppy Pawlooza to benefit the Animal Shelter, as well as the 2017 Copperas Cove Christmas Extravaganza on December 1, which has been expanded from the annual tree lighting ceremony. 
Cantrell also mentioned the free movies in the park that the department has hosted, as part of the Youth Advisory Council activities. The next free movie showing is on November 18, with “Beauty and the Beast” being shown outdoors on Field 5 at City Park.
He reminded those in attendance to pick up the free fall recreation guide, with the winter guide soon to be released.
Along with the park improvements, Brown said that the golf course improvements to include cart path renovations will soon be under way. The department has received three bids for that project, and is also scoring those bids with the plan to bring recommendations to the city council during the first meeting in November.
Wednesday’s meeting was broadcast live on Facebook with a replay available online. The next meeting is slated for Wednesday, January 24, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. 

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