On May 7, Leander City Council accepted a $400,000 state grant to fund construction on the first phase of developing Lakewood Community Park.
The Lakewood site includes 125 acres southwest of the Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Crystal Falls Parkway intersection. To get the grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the city will provide a 50 percent match for a total Phase 1 cost of $600,000.
For its matching contribution the city will use the value of the donated parkland, said Steve Bosak, director of the Leander Parks and Recreation Department.
Park construction could begin early in 2016 after the department takes surveys, acquires land from property owners and solicits construction bids, Bosak said.
Four of the site’s tracts are owned by Buffington Capital Holdings, developer of the Crystal Springs subdivision that borders the Lakewood property, he said. A fifth tract on the property is owned by the Williamson County Park Foundation.
Bosak said the grant will not fund the whole park project could cost about $6 million. Instead the grant will fund initial work such as installing baseball backstops, dirt or paved trails, two simple sports fields within a great lawn, a nature area with a kiosk, picnic pavilions and tables, and benches as well as a pier for canoes and kayaks on Lake Lakewood, he said.
“It’s a start, but it’s a good start,” Bosak said.
Place 4 Councilman Ron Abruzzese said future park guests would need bathrooms, and Bosak said the city would add portable restrooms during the park’s early development.
“Bathrooms are planned for future phases,” Bosak said.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department awarded only 10 of 23 similar grant applications it received from governments throughout the state. Bosak said the Leander application had a better chance because the city also committed to spend city money for park-related amenities.
Bosak said the department’s proposed fiscal year 2015-16 budget will include $300,000 for the amenities. About $93,000 of that figure will come from Buffington.
“We’re just excited to get going, [and we’re] appreciative of the state’s support,” Bosak said.