The plan, also referred to as Explore More Lewisville, is a 10-year action plan that will guide the development and management of parks and recreation facilities, trails, tree canopy investments and open space considerations with a specific focus on providing a quality park within a 10-minute walk of each resident.
“It’s kind of a three-pronged plan where it looks at parks, trails and our urban tree canopy and how those three components of public infrastructure really give the city the capacity to make sure that everybody living in Lewisville is experiencing the benefits of healthy infrastructure,” Lewisville Parks and Recreation Director Stacie Anaya said.
Lewisville City Council voted to adopt the plan in February.
One of the plan’s focal points is to set a new standard for the Dallas-Fort Worth region, according to Lewisville Mayor TJ Gilmore.
“We want to be a thought leader on how green spaces impact people’s lives,” he said.
A vision for Lewisville
Creation of the healthy infrastructure plan has been an 18-month process.
An update to Lewisville’s parks, recreation and open space master plan was approved in 2018. To maintain eligibility for park development grants, the plan must be renewed every 10 years and updated every five years, or when there is a significant change.
A more rapid update was triggered by the annexation of Castle Hills in 2021. Lewisville worked with Halff Associates and the University of North Texas to assist in the plan’s development.
The plan consists of four elements: more play, more nature, more connections and more access. Lewisville’s holistic approach makes the plan more comprehensive than most, said Kendall Howard, project managing consultant from Halff Associates.
“The driving force behind this plan was to kind of shift people’s mindset and realize that parks and recreation and trails are also critical infrastructure of a community,” she said.
Lewisville’s parks and recreation department relied on community engagement while drafting the plan. Its staff conducted surveys and gathered feedback at community events. Its steering committee featured representatives from Lewisville’s Parks Board, Lewisville ISD, environmental groups and community members.
Common feedback cited the desire for more shade, expanding access via trails and improving sense of safety through measures such as installing call boxes, according to the plan’s document.
“Two major things that were important to me is that people weren’t going to be going on these trails and then getting in any type of danger, as well as making sure that every child has access to the things that are created,” steering committee member Morris Mims said.
Equity was a crucial component for Angela Lewallen, a Lewisville ISD teacher and parks board member. She said the plan communicates to residents that those involved in its creation want to create infrastructure that is inclusive, healthy and safe.
“We looked not just at parks from a, ‘Oh it’s a fun place to go play’ perspective,” she said. “We looked at them from, ‘How do they impact people’s lives? How do they impact crime rates? How do they impact people’s physical health? People’s mental health?’ That was all part of what we considered.”
Enhancing the parks system
The plan recommends adding 262 acres of parkland and 51 miles of recreational trails across the city.
The goal to have a park within a 10-minute walk for every resident stems from an initiative launched by the Trust for Public Land. A report from the nonprofit found that one-third of U.S. residents do not live within 10 minutes of a park. Approximately 70% of Lewisville residents live within that distance, according to city officials.
The 10-minute walk metric is equivalent to approximately a half-mile for an able-bodied person. It is the average distance most people are willing to walk to reach a destination, according to the Trust for Public Land.
Lewisville made a commitment to become part of the initiative in 2017, Anaya said. Since then, city staff has made progress in their goal to add park space.
Council approved a resolution to designate 50 parcels of land as public parks in October. A ribbon-cutting for one of those properties, Palisades Park, is expected to take place this summer. The small park will be located at Palisades Drive.
Construction of Glory Park is anticipated to begin this spring. The $3 million project will bring two playground structures, a fitness station, multiple shade structures and trails to the property. Free Wi-Fi will also be available. The park will be located at Southwest Parkway and Kia Drive, according to city officials.
While new parks are being built, investing in current infrastructure is Lewisville’s priority, Anaya said.
“We really need to be strategic about identifying where we can create short connections to existing assets that would help alleviate those gaps,” Anaya said.
City funds, regional grants and partnership opportunities are a few of the possible funding options. Projects could also receive funding if one is included for consideration in the next bond election.
As Lewisville identifies areas of opportunity, it’s important for parks to fit the desires of that particular community, Anaya said.
“We really do need to continue this public engagement to figure out what the needs are,” she said.
Protecting and expanding the city’s urban tree canopy is one of the plan’s major priorities, according to city officials.
There are over 1.6 million trees in Lewisville, accounting for almost 24% of total land area, according to the plan. Under Explore More Lewisville, more trees will be planted throughout the city.
“There’s a lot of economic, environmental, air quality and health benefits that come from a community tree canopy,” Howard said. “[The plan] really provides tangible metrics that the city can point to when, [for example] there’s a development project that comes forward and proposes taking down or removing a lot of trees.”
City officials are committed to ensuring the plan successfully coexists with the rise in development, Gilmore said. For example, the city has worked with current developers to implement amenities, such as dog parks and trails.
Anaya said one goal is to install air quality monitors and ambient heat temperature monitors in every park. Data will be used to see how increases in the urban canopy change air quality over time, per city officials.
The healthy infrastructure plan will keep Lewisville active, Mims said.
"It will get kids outdoors and moving, and give everyone access to a park,” he said. “We’re going to see some great things brought to Lewisville soon for everyone.”