With the fiscal year 2022-23 budget approved by Tomball City Council on Sept. 6, funds are set aside to renovate and improve several Tomball parks, including Matheson Park, Juergens Park and The Depot.

At Matheson Park, the improvements will include four pickleball courts, a splash pad, an updated playground, improvements to the baseball field and a loop trail, according to city officials.

In total, the projects at Matheson Park are expected to cost around about $1.8 million, Assistant City Manager Jessica Rogers said in an interview. Of that, $750,000 is a grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department the city was awarded in May 2021, according to a TPWD news release.City officials said they expect to receive the grant funds by the end of September, with construction beginning shortly after and continuing throughout the winter.

“We already have a playground picked out; we already have a splash pad picked out; and then [we are] hiring contractors,” Public Works Director Drew Huffman said.

Inclusive playground

Across from Matheson Park, an inclusive playground is planned at Juergens Park—inspired by Brad Munson’s son, Louie, who has dwarfism. Munson, a Chick-Fil-A franchisee, lives in Tomball.The city is contributing $100,000 toward the effort in FY 2022-23, Rogers said, while the rest of the funding is coming from community donations and grants. “We’re $100,000 away from fully funding it,” Munson said in a Sept. 7 interview. “And the full total is between $750,000-$800,000.”

Among the donations, franchisees of the Chick-Fil-A Houston market collectively donated $100,000 to help build the playground, and grants from Texas Children’s Hospital and Memorial Hermann Hospital have also contributed, Munson said.

“We’re right on the doorstep of fully funding the playground,” Munson said. The playground itself will be modeled after the inclusive playground illustrated in “Louie’s Together Playground,” part of The Able Fables series, Public Works Project Manager Meagan Mageo said. The book itself is based on Louie and his interest in construction, Munson said.

“Once all the funds are raised, then we will be ordering that playground equipment,” Mageo said. “So it is designed straight from that book.”

A face-lift for The Depot

Meanwhile, Tomball’s Historic Depot Plaza will be getting $150,000 in renovations in FY 2022-23.

“It’s not really flashy,” City Manager David Esquivel said. “The $150,000 is going to do a lot of maintenance work that’s desperately needed for the structure itself.”

Some of the renovations include replacing the wood and painting.

Of the city’s total $2.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, $1.15 million remains unallocated. In January, city staff recommended the council allocate $527,000 to The Depot area for improvements, and discussion around allocating the remaining ARPA funds will resume in the next few months, Rogers said. “There’s been discussions of [an] additional pavilion, maybe some improvement for parking, some covered [areas] for the [Tomball] Farmers Market,” Esquivel said.

In addition, the city is using $150,000 in the FY 2022-23 budget to fund the parks master plan.

“The new master plan will be a comprehensive look at existing and future parks, trails, and recreation [and] leisure amenities that will involve the community and various stakeholders,” Rogers said.