, 2023-02-06 02:00:00,
Since her children were “itty bitty,” Ann Smith has taken her family to walk through Julian Feild Park, Mansfield’s oldest park. Although the land belongs to the city, her family felt a sense of ownership over the tree-filled property, Smith said.
But just beyond Julian Feild’s serenity garden lies a largely undeveloped piece of parkland known as James McKnight Park West. The forest near Walnut Creek looks virtually untouched, Smith said.
“That’s one of the most underused parks as far as I can tell,” Smith, a 40-year Mansfield resident, said. “I’m excited to see it get a little busier.”
More people could be headed to the park soon thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Between now and 2026, Mansfield residents will have access to a new trail system, playground, exercise equipment and the city’s first disc golf course.
The city identified several unfunded needs during the development of a 2020 parks and recreation master plan, Matt Young, executive director of community services for Mansfield’s parks department, said.
The McKnight West park, which was initially developed through a Texas Parks and Wildlife grant nearly 35 years ago, emerged as the highest priority location that had yet to be funded.
“This second grant will add those needed amenities that these residents can actually use,” Young said. “They can run around in the grass and use it as open space, but there’s no amenities for them to engage in fitness or play or any kind of gathering space. That’s why this grant was important to us, to finish the original vision.”
Bedford’s Boys Ranch Park was also among the 20 projects selected by the state’s Local Park Grant Program, which is funded by a portion of sporting goods sales tax and off-shore gas royalties from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
A $750,000 grant will fund a hike-and-bike trail, tennis and pickleball courts and a gaga ball pit at the Bedford park, among other amenities. The funding will also expand the park’s current disc golf course from nine to 18 holes.
“The City of Bedford is thrilled to receive this grant money, which will go toward several resident-requested amenities,” city spokesperson Molly Young wrote by email. “The Texas Parks and Wildlife funds will help expedite the timeline for which these projects can be added to Generations Park at Boys Ranch.”
Neither the Mansfield nor Bedford…
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