As the city prepares to update the master plan for its parks system, Parks and Recreation Director Joe Chesser on Tuesday laid out potential projects that could be included as priorities. Speaking to the Sugar Land Parks, Art, Recreation, Culture, and Streetscapes advisory board, Chesser discussed three main topics for their consideration: land acquisition, policy change considerations, and increased activities and special events.
Chesser presented advisory board members with the results of resident surveys completed last fall showing the top requests from respondents was for additional nature trails for hiking and paved walkways and trails for biking. The second top request was for more nature area in the city.
The Brazos River is one city resource that could be ripe for increased leisure and outdoor offerings, Chesser said. There are tracts of land along the miles-long riverbanks that Sugar Land could acquire, some for little to no cost. Some of those tracts are in flood plains and because they cannot be built upon, would cost the city relatively little, he said.
“We could have kayak launches all along the nine miles of the Brazos River corridor,” Chesser said.
Other potential projects that could be added to the master plan include renovations at Mesquite and Duhacsek parks and expansion in parking at Oyster Creek Park, Chesser said.
“We have a lot of opportunities,” Chesser said. “We just need to determine what our key priorities are.”
Chesser told board members to keep in mind that demographics studies show Sugar Land’s biggest population increases are happening among the oldest and youngest age brackets.
“We’re seeing an increase in our senior population,” he said. “We may want to look at things that are geared toward empty-nesters and what people will want to do as they get older.”
The Sugar Land Open Space Master Plan was last updated in 2005. Since then, 90 percent of the projects and goals called for in that document have either been finished or are close to completion, according to city documents. Of the 10 percent of those 2005 projects that have not gotten as far, Chesser said those mostly include plans for biking and hiking trails.
Over the coming months, the nine-member advisory panel will decide how the master plan should change, and hopefully in October will present those recommendations to the Sugar Land City Council, which will give final say over any updates to the master plan.
The goal is to update the master plan to provide direction for the parks system’s growth over the next 10 years, Chesser said.