The Woodlands Township board of directors voted to move forward on several plans for park renovations during the Feb. 16 regular board meeting after discussing several concerns about the projects.

Restrooms at Capstone, Sundance parks

The board voted 6-1 in favor of constructing restroom facilities at Capstone and Sundance parks in the villages of Cochran’s Crossing and Alden Bridge after discussing safety concerns regarding possible vandalization and misuse of the public restrooms.

The restroom facilities at the area parks would be roughly 252 square feet in size and cost $604,018 to build, according to information from the township. According to John McGowan, director of parks and recreation for the township, there are 31 similar restroom facilities across the public parks in The Woodlands.

Board member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs said a number of residents in Cochran’s Crossing had voiced opposition to the restrooms being constructed in Capstone Park and advised only building the Sundance Park restrooms.

“They’re worried about crime, they’re worried about vandalism and the extra traffic that would come in with the restrooms,” Sekula-Gibbs said. “I think it behooves us to listen to the residents who we asked for their input.”

McGowan presented crime statistics from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office which specified the number of calls to four parks over the last two years. Grogan’s Point and Meadowlake parks, which have public bathrooms, have received eight and 15 calls, respectively. The Capstone and Sundance parks have received 13 and 16 calls, respectively, without restrooms in the area.

Board member Kyle Watson disagreed with the concerns, which he said were “speculative.”

“We’re serving a bigger area than Capstone, and I appreciate that it may have a bigger impact on these folks, but I don’t believe the impact is really great at all,” said Watson. “I don’t see this fear of all these other things especially given that we have parks in a lot of other locations. They’re locked, they’re regulated and at the end of the day if this turned out to be a disaster it could be addressed.”

Ahead of the plans to build the restrooms, letters were sent out to 384 households in Capstone Park. A total of 45 letters were received against the addition and six letters were received in favor.

Falconwing improvements moving forward

McGowan also presented an update on Falconwing park improvements to the board. After going out to bid on the project in three separate packages, the total cost of the quote received totaled just over $9 million, double the current budgeted cost of $4.5 million for improvements.

The bids have to be repackaged before they can be presented again due to some initial confusion on the scope of the project in the orders, according to McGowan. In order to keep the project moving, however, the township agreed to use existing contracts with builders to move forward on improvements.

The parking lot expansion is expected to be completed by May with the LED light conversion finished soon after in July. As for pool renovations, work would not start until the pools close for the season in August with a projected completion date of March 2024 in order to reopen on time for the summer.

The improvements are part of a bigger parks and recreation plan which is underway to include playground renovations, pickleball court construction and additional park space.