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Residents Discuss Proposed Oak Meadow Park Improvements

Irving—A plan for improving Oak Meadow Park was submitted to the Irving Parks and Recreation Board in March. That plan was unveiled by city of Irving officials at a public meeting at Georgia Farrow Recreation Center on Thursday, June 24.

Approximately 50 residents attended the meeting along with Gene Moulden, the CIP Planning Administrator for Irving, and Councilman Mark Zeske.

Oak Meadow Park was donated in 2006 to the city by the developer of the neighboring Graff Farms subdivision. The site features rolling hills, trees and several picnic sites.

“It’s about a 5-acre tract,” Terry Reed, a Landscape Architect for Irving, said. “It’s full of post oaks that are absolutely gorgeous, and [we are] really looking forward to doing something with this site.”

The proposed improvements include revamping the park’s northern entrance on Condor Drive to include a pavilion, a play area for children and a quarter-mile long walking trail with exercise stations along the trail.

“We’ve got about a $400,000 budget and have the opportunity coming up for a Texas Parks and Wildlife matching grant,” Reed said. “No trees will be taken out unless they’re unhealthy. No trees will be removed to put any of these amenities in.”

The play area, which will be built on synthetic turf, provides small stone features for children to play on instead of standard playground equipment.

“I call it a play area rather than our typical playground. [It will have] some boulders, small in nature,” Reed said. “These playground manufacturing companies are getting real clever with these sculptured animals that are placed in parks. The kids absolutely love them. You see alligators, whales, turtles, frogs, whatever they come up with.”

Residents in attendance were split on the merits of the play area. Some maintain that Oak Meadow is more of an adult park. Others argued in favor of keeping the children’s area in the project, because of all the new families moving into the neighborhood.

Added lighting will ensure the trail is properly illuminated to make it as safe as possible, and a drinking fountain or two will be included.

According to Moulden, estimated cost for the walking trail is $200,000, which is half the funds the city currently has budgeted for the project.

“The plan would be, if we can only light half of it right now and get the trail and everything else in, that’s what we’ll do,” Moulden said. “The goal would be to light the trail. We don’t want dark spots back there.”

Most residents were not in favor of having a pavilion as part of the project, an alteration which will be discussed in the future.

Those in attendance were happy to learn that parking was not included in the project.

“This is a neighborhood park, and at our neighborhood parks, we don’t provide any parking,” Reed said.

The four new picnic tables planned along the trail will be the single-seat variety instead of the standard bench seat table. These new tables have a square top, and an area small enough to deter people without homes from sleeping on them.

In August, the project will likely receive an endorsement from the Park Board. The city is also seeking a matching grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife (TP&W), a process which begins in early fall with a City Council resolution.

The grant application will then be submitted in fall with the award announcement to come next spring. A grant agreement will follow next summer, with bidding and construction scheduled for November 2022 to August 2023.

Those presenting the plan feel optimistic about the city’s chances of securing a TP&W grant for the project.

“In the past we have been [pretty successful],” Moulden said. “We haven’t submitted for one in a while, because we didn’t have our master plan updated.

“They’re based on scoring, and one of the biggest criteria is do we have a master plan? We got that updated two years ago. Running Bear Park and Mountain Creek Preserve were both put in with grants. Cimarron Park in Valley Ranch was put in with a grant too.”

For about an hour, the presenters and residents engaged in a spirited, yet respectful back-and-forth discussion where residents offered their questions and concerns about the project.

“Being part of the parks board, we enjoy this kind of stuff. To try and help improve some of these neighborhoods is exactly why I’m part of the Parks Board,” Garcia, Parks Board member, said.

“I was part of the Zoom call when we took input on this, and all we heard is we need a place they can exercise and walk. Terry and Gene were able to get that done. We can do things like this for the citizens and improve that neighborhood.”