The first phase of parks and recreation improvements planned in The Woodlands Township in the coming years includes $8.2 million in projects identified for 2023, according to discussion at the Aug. 24 board of directors meeting.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Nunes said the first round of projects includes beginning a series of improvements at Alden Bridge Sports Park, such as turf fields, new restrooms and a parking lot expansion. Improvements are also planned at Bear Branch Sportsfields along with additional tennis and pickleball courts, a new dog park, and additional and renovated restrooms at various locations.

The parks and recreation needs assessment outlined at a July board meeting identified more than $100 million in potential needs over 15-20 years, but about $23.4 million in improvements were included as Phase 1 of a plan to be implemented across three to five years beginning in 2023, according to Nunes.

A $200,000 needs assessment for parks in the township was conducted by Asakura Robinson beginning in February, identifying three major projects, numerous upgrades of existing parks and other projects needed throughout the township.

For example, Alden Bridge Sports Park improvements for 2023-25 were estimated at $10.85 million, with about $542,000 slated in the first year. The parking lot at the facility, located off Hwy. 242, could see several fields removed to accommodate parking needs and several other fields added.

"There are continually challenges with parking in that facility," Nunes said.

In addition to work at the sports park and at Alden Bridge Park, a new park on South Gosling Road is under consideration in the coming years, Nunes said. Smaller parks are also slated for improvements. Restrooms are particularly in need of upgrades at locations throughout the township, he said.

Projects could be funded largely through reserve funds over several years, President and CEO Monique Sharp said at the budget workshop held the morning of Aug. 24. Reserve funds generated through means, such as positive sales tax variances—when more revenue is generated than projected—can be used for one-time expenses, such as capital improvements, Sharp said.