As the county moves forward with its next parks and trails master plan, Fort Bend County commissioners heard a presentation from engineering firm Halff at a June 11 meeting regarding public feedback and next steps in the plan’s development.

The backstory

Nonprofit Fort Bend Green is partnering with the county to create an updated Fort Bend County Parks and Trails Master Plan, which will shape park projects for the next 10-15 years.

“The [master plan] helps establish a baseline for parks and recreational facilities within the county, develops consensus for project recommendations and prioritization, provides an opportunity for alignment of those recommendations based off of community input and needs as well as budgetary constraints,” Halff consultant Louis Cutaia said.

According to Halff’s presentation, the plan development occurs in the following stages:
  • Phase 1: Parks condition assessment, completed June 2023-April 2024
  • Phase 2: Public engagement, completed in April 2024
  • Phase 3: Strategies and recommendations
  • Phase 4: Implementation
To receive grants for park projects, the master plan must be updated every 10 years, said Christen Madigan, Fort Bend Green’s administrative manager, in an email. The last master plan was approved in 2011.

Digging in

According to the presentation, feedback from stakeholders, public meetings and an online survey showed residents would like:
  • Increased awareness of county-owned parks
  • Opportunities for improved connectivity and accessibility of the parks system, including trail connections
  • Improved signage and lighting
  • Preservation opportunities
  • Additional parks and recreation programming
  • Flexible sports fields
  • More variety within parks, including active and passive activities for youth and adults
“To me, anything to do with the park and recreation is about quality of life, so planning in pathways is the best thing to do,” Judge KP George said at the June 11 meeting.

By the numbers

There are nearly 2,800 acres across 19 county-owned park facilities in Fort Bend County, according to the presentation.

Park analysis shows Fort Bend County has 3.31 park acres per 1,000 residents, which does represent a deficit at the county scale, Cutaia said. To address this, Halff staff will also conduct additional analysis of city, municipal utility district and homeowner association parklands to provide context on supporting parkland.

What’s next?

The draft plan is expected to be completed by September, and commissioners could adopt the plan by the end of the year, Madigan said.