Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Groundbreaking Held for Firemen's Park Renovation Project

Click here to view the Site Plan which includes an addition of a new lake for fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
The City of McAllen and the City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Department hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Firemen’s Park renovation project, at 201 N. 1st, on Tuesday October 5.
Firemen’s Park was founded by the McAllen Volunteer Fire Department on May 15, 1953. In 2009, Texas Parks and Wildlife awarded a $1.6 million grant to improve the historic park. The project will provide the first fishing and camping venue in McAllen with the addition of 10.8 acres of neighborhood park lands and a four acre pond.
“Thanks to the Texas Parks and Wildlife grant, Firemen’s Park will become one of South Texas’ premier family parks where McAllen families will be able to enjoy fishing and camping inside our city limits,” said McAllen Mayor Richard F. Cortez.
The project also includes renovations to the rental pavilion, sand volleyball court, playscape, kitchen area, parking area and restrooms.
“The development of Firemen’s Park will bring a unique experience to the citizens of McAllen. The park will have a lake for canoeing, kayaking and fishing,” said City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Director Sally Gavlik. “In addition, there will be an area that can accommodate overnight camping for such groups as Boy Scouts. Firemen’s Park brings the outdoors to an urban community.”
The Firemen’s Park renovation project is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall of 2011.
One of the objectives of the project seeks to renovate and expand Firemen’s Park into a neighborhood park to serve a larger sector of the population. The park is currently a 3-acre “special use” facility, open by reservation only. Although the facility is rented 150 times a year, it does not serve many of the growing neighborhood recreational needs in McAllen.
The second part of the project will dedicate 6.4 acres of publicly-owned non-park land that was previously used as a water treatment plant reservoir for park use. The 6.4 acre of non-park land dedication involves the adaptive re-use of a dry water reservoir at the decommissioned Water Plant into a water-based recreational facility. This will be the first fishing and water-based (non-swimming pool) recreational facility in the City. It will be open for public water-oriented activities such as fishing, boating (canoes, kayaks and small sailboats), walking, birding and nature observation.
The reservoir will be deepened for better fish habitat, the east bank will be moved further to the east to enlarge the physical size of the pond and trails will be added to link the facility to the 2nd Street Hike and Bike Trail. New restrooms, fishing piers, a fishing bridge, and shaded picnic facilities will be built. An automatic irrigation system will use water from the reservoir to irrigate the park.
Plant species, including grasses native to the Lower Rio Grande Valley that attract birds and butterflies, will be used in this project. Species that are on the state’s Controlled Plant list will NOT be used.
The third segment of the project includes the purchase of 2.46 acres of new park land never before used for public recreation and dedicates it for park purposes. This tract of land adjacent to the park, formerly used by Right Away Foods (Military Meals-ready-to-eat) will be purchased and incorporated into the park.
The fourth segment of this project includes the southern portion of the property surrounding the water filter building and part of the building itself. Fencing, site work, pathways, driveways, parking and landscaping will make up the majority of the work. The one above-ground water storage tank will be renovated for adaptive reuse into a multi-purpose facility.
Work on the water filter building will be limited to securing the doors and windows and the adaptive reuse of the “head-house” and surrounding area on the north side into a restroom/concession building and patio to support the canoeing and fishing activities. Utilities, including water and sewer will be included in this segment of the project.
The proposed project site is located in the central eastern part of the City at the north-east corner of 2nd Street (Col. Nikki Rowe Boulevard) and Business Highway 83. The property is located adjacent to a major irrigation canal owned by Irrigation District #2 that provides water for the City of Edinburg and farm irrigation use. The water plant was constructed in 1927. The City of McAllen acquired the plant from Central Power and Light Co. (now AEP) in 1945. The water plant was decommissioned in 1997 after McAllen’s 3rd plant was commissioned on the west side of McAllen in 2006, eliminating the need for the old plant to be used in the future. The reservoir was drained, where it remains unused to this day. Water from the Rio Grande flows on a daily basis through the canal, which is adjacent to the reservoir. The new fishing pond will be fed from this water source, allowing flow-through of fresh water.
The proposed project will also provide critical habitat for migratory birds and water fowl which will support the World Birding Center project. Through the 1990’s, the population growth was projected to increase rapidly along the lower Texas Gulf Coast with the greatest increase in Hidalgo and Cameron counties (Culliton et al. 1990, U.S. Census Bureau 2002). Additionally, by 1988, close to 95% of the native Tamaulipan thorn scrub habitat had been destroyed due to rapid urbanization and agricultural development. With suitable habitat extensively fragmented, the remaining parcels of coastal forest and grassland ecosystems are critical stopover habitats for many circum- and trans-gulf migratory birds in the spring and autumn (Barrow et al. 2005, Gauthreaux 1999, Vickery et al. 2000, Forsyth and James 1971, Langschied 1994, Tunnell and Judd 2002, Jahrsdoerfer and Leslie 1988).

Hundreds of Jobs Coming to Edinburg, Texas Area

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