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Keep Longview Beautiful eyes site to invest grant

By Richard Yeakley
June 25, 2013 at 11 p.m.


Keep Longview Beautiful is eyeing a 9-acre tract of land at the intersection of Spur 63 and Texas 31 in which to invest <a href="http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/delegation-to-recieve-award-at-keep-texas-beautiful-conference/article_91e7b8a5-dc43-5aaf-bf59-b163e232dd1b.html">a $270,000 grant</a> the city received for its beautification efforts.

Dionne Lott, first vice president of the Keep Longview Beautiful Board of Directors, said a plan to use the grant money was presented to the board and approved unanimously Tuesday, the first of many steps needed to make the dream of a community gathering place at the intersection a reality.

"What we would like to do is have a common area or a plaza there. It will be right next to the arboretum, and we are hoping it will be an entry way into that," Lott said. "Also, the Grace Creek bike trail will be extending through there. We are hoping it will be somewhere that the whole community will gather and will use."

Lott said the specific look and use of the land would continue to be discussed as the project is developed.

The city of Longview was awarded one of 10 Keep Texas Beautiful's Governor's Community Achievement Awards this year. The awards recognize communities with the best grassroots environmental programs in the state, according to the Keep Texas Beautiful website.

A delegation from Longview received the official award Wednesday at a Keep Texas Beautiful conference. Longview was recognized as the winning Category 8 city, or the winning city with a population between 65,001 and 90,000 residents.

"One thing that we liked about it is that as we partner with TxDOT, this intersection has two highways ... A lot of folks that do travel on 31, entering Longview from Kilgore, Henderson and points down south, so this is a neat opportunity and a neat location," said Darwin Winfield, president of the nonprofit organization's board of directors.

Per Texas Department of Transportation rules, the grant must be used to beautify an area accessible by a state thoroughfare.

The intersection sees more than 20,000 vehicles daily, according to TxDOT traffic counts.

Winfield said there was not a projected date for the first "shovel to hit dirt" because the proposal to beautify the tract of land must go before the Longview City Council and TxDOT.

He added that receiving money to beautify the city because of the city's dedication to beautification was positive growth.

"The board in partnership with teamwork with the city have made great strides. We are very proud to receive this commendation and award to help beautify a particular part of the city," Winfield said.

Lott said several community organizations have voiced support to help the nonprofit organization work the land after a plan is approved, including the bicycle enthusiasts who plan to continue a mountain bike trail that begins at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

A community is eligible to win the award every four years, so Longview will be removed from competition until 2017, he said.

The nonprofit organization's executive director, Kim Droege, was scheduled to continue discussions Tuesday with representatives from TxDOT.

The proposal to use the grant on the stretch of land will be presented to the City Council in late July.

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