Improvement projects at area parks set to continue in 2016

A senior citizen exercise area in Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy was completed last spring.

A senior citizen exercise area in Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy was completed last spring.

Several parks in the greater Katy area are undergoing improvements and work in 2016, including a new arboretum in the city of Katy. Other projects—like the new senior playground in Mary Jo Peckham Park— were finished in 2015.

City of Katy arboretum

Work on the new arboretum is scheduled to begin March 5, said Amy Reed, community relations and volunteer coordinator for the city of Katy.  The arboretum will occupy nearly all of the 3-acre Katy City Park located at the intersection of Franz and Katy City Park roads.

“We just got some design plans from our landscape design firm,” Reed said. “We’re looking to plant about 150 trees and shrubs in that area—fruit trees, shade trees and native plants. We’re going to use every bit of that park.”

The city is working on the project in conjunction with the Keep Katy Beautiful program and funding has come in part from a $35,000 donation from CenterPoint Energy. The city of Katy matched that donation with another $35,000 in funds, Reed said.

A portion of the CenterPoint donation will be used to purchase plants while $15,000 will be set aside for maintenance of the arboretum during the next three years.

Various plants will be featured in the arboretum, including Little Gem magnolia shrubs, Texas Ash and willow oak trees. There will be a walking path throughout the park and educational plaques in place near vegetation.

“Every aspect of this [arboretum] can become an educational opportunity,” she said.

Adam Smith, a local Eagle Scout candidate, will be helping with the project, Reed said. Smith will be working with volunteers to help plant vegetation as part of his final Eagle Scout project.

The first day of planting is March 5. Interested volunteers can sign up online.

Mary Jo Peckham Park

One new feature at Peckham Park is the senior citizen exercise area, which was completed last spring, said Mike McMahan, special activities coordinator for the Harris County Precinct 3 Parks Department.

Improvement projects at area parks set to continue in 2016“The senior playground [consists of] play structures that are designed to help their mobility, their balance and those kinds of skills,” McMahan said. “It’s a series of obstacles, things to improve [motor] functions that they may have had a problem with.”

The specially designed workout stations include special safety features and include hand-lever machines, a net walk, balance beam and other stepping exercises.

“It’s designed for seniors [who]needed an area to work out safely,” McMahan said. “They have protective areas in place for them to grip onto and steady themselves.”

McMahan said work was scheduled to begin in early 2016 on additional workout stations.

“We’re starting construction of trails and connecting the south side trail,” he said. “We’ll add exercise stations along the trail as well.”

Mason Creek Park

Work continues to move forward on Mason Creek Park in Harris County, including the completion of flood control measures along Mason Creek.

McMahan said a water detention pond in the park has been completed, and work is underway to plant trees and other types of vegetation around the detention pond.

“Our intention is to continue the trail around the perimeter, install benches and plant a bunch of trees,” McMahan said.

The trees and vegetation are designed to make the park area more attractive for visitors, he said.

“It attracts a lot of wildlife,” McMahan said of the vegetation and flora. “Especially birds; they are attracted to the vegetation. People who come to the park like to look at those birds.”

There are plans to build a children’s playground in the park with construction beginning in the first quarter of 2016, McMahan said.