The town hall-style meeting included an overview of the project and measures taken by the developers and city staff to address potential concerns. Potential traffic and related infrastructure issues were proposed by residents of the neighboring Estates at Cobb Hill development, along with other Frisco residents.
Frisco Transportation Planning Manager Joel Fitts presented timeline updates to transportation projects underway in the area, including adjacent roadways in the Fields project such as Panther Creek Parkway, Frisco Street and Fields Parkway. Fitts also noted that studies about the potential traffic in the area indicated that the patterns of inbound traffic to the theme park would not align with the existing traffic patterns in the area.
“You're not going to have the peak traffic of people arriving at the park coinciding with the peak traffic of everybody going to work or going to school in the morning,” Fitts said.
Planned future expansions and connections of arterial roadways in the area will also assist in minimizing the affect of inpacreased traffic, Fitts said. The project developers noted intentional measures taken to assist in minimizing the expected traffic, including only utilizing 30 acres of the 97-acre property for the park and hotel. This leaves more than 50 acres for parking, entrance and exit corridors and future expansions.
“We're very committed everywhere we go to being a really good neighbor,” said Page Thompson, president of new ventures for Universal Parks and Resorts.
Additional concerns presented by residents included potential noise disturbances, height restrictions for structures and rides on the property and roadway screening. Universal Parks and Resorts officials said their intentions are to create an “inward-thinking” park experience that would include minimizing noise leaking out of the park.
The park would also have operational hours that would reflect the target audience, with Thompson citing 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends as potential hours of operation.
“We're going to work very hard to contain that sound within each of those themed lands. We don't want the sound to escape even from the land, let alone from the park,” Thompson said.
John McReynolds, Universal Parks and Resorts’ senior vice president of external affairs, also expressed his intention to work with homeowners associations of nearby neighborhoods to address concerns. When considering the potential to affect nearby home property values, a concern brought up by a resident, McReynolds said many neighborhoods near the company’s other theme parks have seen an increase in property values.
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney mentioned that many of the concerns expressed by residents at the meeting were similar to concerns considered by council in the initial planning process. The city worked with Universal Parks and Resorts to come up with plans for landscaping and plans to manage traffic for the project, Cheney said.
“All the questions you’re asking are the same immediate reactions that city council had when this idea was proposed to us,” Cheney said at the meeting.
Fehmi Karahan, the president and CEO of the Karahan Companies and the developer of the Fields project, noted the theme park project is a lower intensity use for the property, compared to a more dense mixed-use development.
“I felt that it was a very good match for what we were planning [for Fields],” Karahan said. “When they explained to us what they were going to do, we got more excited. I'm thrilled that we were chosen, Frisco was chosen for this great development.”
The plans and zoning requests for the project are expected to be considered at a Feb. 7 meeting of the planning and zoning commission, as well as the city council, according to city staff.