The City of Deer Park was awarded a $400,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Thursday that will be used to develop a Wetlands Park on a 38.8-acre tract of land.
The grant, classified as a Non-Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant, is funded from a portion of the sales tax on sporting goods through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account.
“The City of Deer Park is extremely grateful to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the state legislators for providing our City with the means to assist with the development of a highly valuable natural resource,” Mayor Jerry Mouton said. “Our current partnerships with the TPWD allow us to provide not only open spaces to our residents, but also educational programming, outdoor events and a rich, historical culture.”
According to Gary Baggett, Parks and Recreation Commission chair, construction of the new asset is outlined in the department’s current master plan as a priority project.
“The Wetlands Park will include wetlands restoration, trails, sensory gardens, landscaping and interpretive signage,” Baggett said. “By utilizing these grant funds, we will reach a critical milestone in our Parks and Recreation Open Space Master Plan, allowing us to further address the needs of our residents.”
Scott Swigert, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said the department has been working with the legislature for several years to illustrate the need for continued funding for local parks.
“Through activities like the annual ‘Walk the Halls’ event, where local advocates travel to the capitol to communicate with state representatives on the importance of parks, we as a department have been working for years to secure funding packages such as the grant we received this week,” Swigert said. “Our project was one of only 10 similar projects awarded throughout the state this year, and we are very grateful to have the support of the state on this endeavor.”
Swigert said the award of the grant came at a critical time, immediately following the release of a survey commissioned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the Texas State Park Advisory Committee, indicating that 92 percent of Texas residents agree that public parks are especially important to families needing an affordable recreation outlet.
“The results of the recent parks poll are very significant for both local and state parks,” Swigert said. “The survey indicated that 84 percent of residents see parks as ‘essential’ to healthy, active lifestyles for Texans, and the same percentage acknowledge the need to protect natural areas.
“The construction of this Wetlands Park will contribute directly to these goals, and we are very excited to be able to build on the open space resources we provide our residents.”
Later this month, the department will apply for a TPWD Hike and Bike Trails grant which will allow the City to connect the northeast portion of the area to existing neighborhood parks as well as the future Wetlands Park.
In the attached photo, (from left) Charlie Sandberg, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director; Jacob Zuniga, Park Operations Supervisor; State Parks Director Brent Leisure; City of Deer Park Parks and Recreation Director Scott Swigert; Tiffany McGallian, Park Operations Coordinator; and TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith stand together following the TPWD grant award in Austin on January 22.Contributors to the grant application not pictured include Philip Adamson, Brad Herrington, Marketing/Technical Coordinator and Jazmin Hernandez, Office Manager.