Walking across the manicured floodplain of The Green, it appeared that the city’s newest park was ready to welcome the public.
But as wind gusts blew tree pollen across their faces Friday afternoon, engineers and city staff closely followed Keep Longview Beautiful Executive Director Kim Droege as she searched throughout the 9 acres for details to check off before The Green’s grand opening celebration this week.
“I have a list of items already,” said Droege, holding a clipboard of to-do lists and notes. “I’ve got to get all of the art finished. I’ve got to get all of the art signed.
“We’ve got a bunch of decomposed granite to get out. We’ve got to get the trees out, complete the sculptures, get the balloon here, signage,” she continued. “I’ve got to get the Satterwhite logs figured out over here, columns finished, fertilizer seeding (that) still needs to occur, parking lot striped – there’s a laundry list.”
Harrison, Walker & Harper construction firm of Paris started building the $1.2-million city park May 22.
It was paid for with donations from Keep Longview Beautiful and other donors, contributions from the city and Gregg County and a $400,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department funded by state sales tax revenues.
The Green features a decked gathering pavilion, a half-mile walking trail and a half-dozen educational and cultural niches from a Grace Creek overlook and nature play area to a music garden featuring xylophones. Directors say the idea is to heighten visitors’ appreciation for health, nature, art and music while also learning through the outdoor environmental education areas.
They add that The Green is also a reforestation effort as it is surrounded by native trees that help combat the greenhouse effect and provide clean, oxygen-rich air.
Art accents various spots in the park.
Most noticeable Friday were wire sculptures created by Charles Arnold that shimmered in the late winter sun. The music garden includes painted art by Carol Manley.
And this past week, the Longview Homeschool Anchor Club installed a Little Free Library.
City Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron anticipates no major difference in how his staff will maintain The Green versus the city’s other parks.
“We’ll continue to mow and maintain, get the pavilion cleaned every day, the bathroom gets cleaned every day. We’ll make sure that we do our inspections on the play area as we do everything else through our daily inspections,” he said.
Still, there is a difference with The Green.
“Most of them are what I would call more active parks with full playgrounds, ball fields and those kinds of things, whereas this one has more of the aesthetics to it,” said Caron, “and more of the leisure of just enjoying the environment-side of things. It also beautifies an entryway into the community.”
Caron remembered the first time he saw the Texas 31 entryway three years ago when he traveled from Missouri to interview for the Longview administrative job, and he said the views have changed for the better.
“From an outsider’s perspective, our entryways have always been maybe not an eyesore but certainly not something that you are proud of,” he said, “and I think the difference now is that the improvements that have been made in various locations is something that stands out that you notice, and it’s good stuff as much as anything.”
The Green officially opens Friday with a family-fun celebration 4 to 7 p.m. followed by three more hours of live music and green beer to commemorate not just the new park but also the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. The Tuxedo Cats are providing the music, and food trucks will be available throughout the evening with a butterfly released scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Dogs are allowed at The Green but only with a leash, and owners should prepare to pick up after their pets.