Preliminary designs and illustrations unveiled this past week by the city show new playground setups, enhanced drainage, new or transformed athletic facilities and other trimmings for five Longview parks.
The renovations and improvements are being funded by a more than $24 million bond package approved by Longview voters in November 2018.
City staff members are anticipating preliminary design work to be completed soon and final designs to be submitted by April 1. If a contractor is selected in June, it will take between 12 and 15 months to complete projects at Lois Jackson, McWhorter, Patterson, Spring Creek and Stamper/Womack parks, according to Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron.
Upgrades also are scheduled at Broughton, Rollins and Lear parks, and those projects are in the design stage.
As for which of the parks will be completed first, Caron said, “At this point, I think it’s way too early until we get a contractor involved... The sacred cow that we can’t impact is little league football in the fall (at Womack Field). Construction out there will have to wait. It will have to be done before the season starts or it will have to wait until after the season.”
Lois Jackson Park
Restroom installation, additional play areas and a pavilion were primary items for Lois Jackson Park on Bill Owens Parkway, Caron said.
Residents said they were concerned with where the existing restroom was located and wanted open space preserved near the meeting areas. There also was overwhelming response in support of removing the racquetball court.
Preliminary designs indicate a new trail will be installed from the existing playground to the Paul G. Boorman Trail that traverses along the east side of Lois Jackson Park.
The restroom will be relocated closer to the park’s interior, and the playground area will shift south slightly to maintain trees and open space, Caron said.
“The other thing that we heard on playgrounds is that we needed to provide a little bit of shade over top of them, so we’ve selected some playground equipment that at least on the larger item has a little shade canopy over it,” he said.
Separate play areas — one dedicated for ages 2 to 5, the other for children 5 to 12 — also are in the plans.
A new pavilion will be added in the area where the racquetball court is being removed, which will also help with park drainage, he said.
The total construction budget for Lois Jackson Park is estimated at $627,200.
Initial ideas for McWhorter Park on Toler Road were to seal coat the trail, add sand volleyball courts and a playground, expand parking, update and add basketball courts and improve fencing and lighting for the athletic fields.
A new basketball court coming to the park will be larger than the existing court, Caron said.
“That’s because we’re going to a full-size basketball court, which is full NBA size,” he said. “The existing one right now, basically the end lines and the sidelines are either on the fence or off of the pavement, so it’s not a full size, if you will.”
Along with the sand volleyball court, preliminary designs call for breaking up the two play areas, with the area for ages 2 to 5 and the area for ages 5 to 12 on opposite sides of the existing pavilion.
Also, “One of the items that people asked about out there were the need for additional restrooms, and so we had a lot of discussion on where to place an additional restroom at this location,” Caron said.
The new restroom will be placed near the existing restroom, so patrons won’t have to walk to one facility, realize it’s full and then walk across the park to the other facility, he said, “That way, you know if you go to the restroom that you have more facilities available to you.”
An estimated construction budget of $956,975 is projected for McWhorter Park.
As with other Longview parks, McWhorter will keep swing sets.
“Swings are very popular,” Caron said. “Some communities are starting to do away with that … but all of ours are very, very popular, and actually at every meeting we went to, swings were one of the priorities for all of our playgrounds, so we’ve kept those at all of our parks.”
Patterson and Spring Creek
At Patterson Park on Hyacinth Lane, a retaining wall will address drainage issues, and the parking lot will be redone to improve accessibility.
“The issue right now is there’s a ramp that goes from the parking lot to the trail, but it has a severe incline to it. It’s not ADA accessible,” Caron said.
The city also wants to improve drainage so that it reduces the impact to neighboring homes.
“We haven’t had any complaints or issues. I don’t think there’s major drainage, but again, we just want to take care of what we have,” he said.
Playground improvements also are in the works, but the play area won’t include a canopy because Patterson has a natural, dense tree canopy, he said.
At Spring Creek Park on Mona Drive, redoing the playground, installing a restroom, adding shade, upgrading the trail and sealing the basketball court were important renovations to neighborhood residents, according to city staff members.
There also were complaints about an open ditch, but that concern has been addressed by the city’s Public Works Department, Caron said.
A retaining wall will be added along the trail, and the play area planned at Spring Creek will have “a little bit different feel than at some others,” he said. Drainage between the play area and the basketball court also will be addressed.
“The big thing that we heard on the Stamper side of things is that they did not want a trail, which turns out to help us on the overall budget of it, but what we did is relocate the basketball court up to Fair Street,” Caron said. “It was very well received when we did that.”
A pavilion will be added next to the basketball court at Stamper Park, and parking will be improved.
Molton Street will be removed between Womack athletic fields, and a new ticket booth and concession building will be added. Also, a portion of Pecan Street will be eliminated, which will reorient the park’s entrance to the north.
The playground will be more of a fitness-based structure to match the park’s athletic theme.
Caron said the plans “really bring that whole site together. That’s pretty cool.”