Phase I of parks improvements to start February 1
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Wednesday evening, the Copperas Cove Parks & Recreation Department held its first quarterly town hall meeting of the year to inform residents about park programs, improvements and upcoming events. Approximately 25 residents attended the meeting.
The biggest announcement came from Parks & Recreation Director Joe Brown, who said the first phase of the park improvements projects is set to begin on February 1. The first phase includes parking lots, sidewalks, walking trails and monument signs, with each of the city’s park receiving upgrades in one or all of those aspects.
City Park will receive several new parking lots, along with the creation of approximately three miles of walking trails. The ultimate plan is to roll anything that is not completed one year into the following year’s projects, Brown said.
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. Brown gave kudos to the Copperas Cove Rotary Club which has already donated two new pavilions toward the park improvements.
The project work will kick off at City Park so that the improvements will be completed before baseball season starts, Brown said.
The department is also applying for a Texas Parks & Wildlife Grant for $200,000 which would help with some of the walking trails in City Park, which if approved, the city would also contribute $81,000 for that part of the project.
He also shared the improvements to the cemetery, to include new fencing, which is nearly completed.
“There’s a lot of chatter about cemetery maintenance,” Brown said, adding that it’s something they’ve tried to work creatively on.
Brown also addressed some of the challenges his department faces, where maintaining approximately 500 acres of grass and park space, which includes the parks, cemetery, and golf course. With the current staff, it breaks down to about 31.5 acres per fulltime employee (FTE). The national average, according to the National Recreational Park Association, is 13-19 acres per FTE.
“When people come and complain, and I welcome them, and I agree with come of the cemetery maintenance complaints,” said Brown. “We’ve worked on a number of plausible solutions to this, and none of them worked. It is left in the hands of staff to mitigate and maintain the cemetery the best we can…All the grass is an invasive weed grass that grows faster, unbelievably quick.”
Nic Cantrell talked about the athletics and aquatics programs. More than 17,000 visitors spent time at the city’s pool’s last summer season. He was also happy to report that the splash pad in South Park pool was operational again after a hiatus of a few years.
Among the question posed by residents was that of installing disc golf at one of the parks. Brown said starting disc golf was something that could be done for less than $10,000 and agreed that Ogletree Gap park or Rhode Park would be suitable locations for installing the equipment for that.
The meeting was also recorded live on Facebook with a replay available online at the Parks & Recreation Department’s Facebook page.