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City's parks and trail options growing this year

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I know we have had a mild winter, however I love seeing the signs of spring; the trees and flowers blooming, the warmer weather, families enjoying the added hours of daylight to spend time together outside walking our trails or visiting our parks. I’d like to say spring is my favorite time in Highland Village, but really every day is my favorite time in Highland Village.

While you are making your plans to enjoy the beautiful springtime weather, city staff is working to make Highland Village a beautiful, safe and pleasant area for you to play.

Many of you may visit Unity Park for your kids or grandkids ball games or perhaps you play in one of our recreation leagues. I’m happy to report that the additional parking lot on the southeast portion of the park is now available. This parking lot provides an additional 114 spaces to Unity Park.

Brazos Park, on Brazos Road just north of the Municipal Complex, is loaded with our flag football teams this spring. We have the highest turnout ever of our future Marcus Marauders. Please be careful if you’re traveling by the Municipal Complex, we have a lot going on.

We have known for some time the expansion of I-35E would negatively impact Copperas Branch Park. City Manager Michael Leavitt and has been working diligently with TxDOT for the last ten years to ensure the city is appropriately compensated for the loss of revenue, sports fields and recreational use resulting from the closure and subsequent reduction of Copperas Branch Park.

We have negotiated a park mitigation payment from TxDOT in the amount of $3,530, 099.88. The US Army Corp of Engineers requires a portion of these funds, $641,834, be utilized for Corps leased areas which are Copperas Branch Park or Pilot Knoll Park. We plan to use the remainder of the funds to develop Doubletree Ranch Park.

As you’ll remember, the city purchased Doubletree Ranch Park in 2009 with 4B sales tax funds which are specifically designated for soccer fields and trails. With much community and staff input, we have developed a master plan for Doubletree Ranch Park to include soccer fields, trails, a pavilion, a water feature, open areas and a natural habitat viewing area.

We anticipate issuing certificates of obligation in the amount of $6-7M from the city’s 4B Corporation in the fall of 2013 and bidding the project in January 2014. The funds from Copperas Branch Park mitigation will allow us to develop Doubletree Ranch Park in its entirety instead of a phased construction as we originally planned. We are thankful to Michael Leavitt for all the work he did over the years to ensure we are able to recuperate from the negative impacts of the expansion of I-35.

We’re also working hard to complete current trail projects. The city is adding sidewalk from City Trail to Market Trail on FM 2499, a trail to access the lake at Marauder Park and extending Copperas Trail from Lions Club Park to Doubletree Ranch Park. These projects should also be complete in time for residents to enjoy the spring-time weather.

One of the drawbacks of a mild winter is the lack of below freezing temperatures to limit our spring and summer bug population. After last year’s near record number of West Nile Virus cases, we have learned more about how to test for and combat the mosquito population and are implementing our programs early. Mosquito control programs are essential, without them, the mosquito population would flourish and cause potential health and comfort problems. 

The City of Highland Village Drainage Division treats standing water throughout the City to control mosquitoes while in they’re in a larval stage. The materials used are not harmful to animals or the environment. The best solution is prevention. Please be aware of your surroundings, if you see standing water around your residence, spill it out. If there is no stagnant water, there will be no mosquito larva.

Here are some tips to help prevent mosquito breeding habitat. Each one of us must be responsible for our homes and when we spend time outdoors. Take the time to empty standing water from flower pots, buckets and pet water bowls. Clean your bird baths regularly. Clean roof gutters to ensure there is no accumulated water. Clean French drain systems so they can drain correctly or treat them with larvicide. Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET to exposed skin and clothing when you’re outside. And finally, if you see any dead birds, please report them to the City’s Drainage Division or Code Enforcement.

While you’re in Highland Village, if you see standing water or potential mosquito breeding areas, report those locations using iPhone or Android smart phones. Just download the city’s Eye on Highland Village app by searching GoRequest in the iPhone Store or Google Play. Smart phone users simply open the application, select an issue (i.e. standing water), take a picture, and tap submit – the application picks up the exact location and sends the issue directly to the staff member who can fix it. You can track your submitted issues and, if you enter an e-mail address, receive notification when your issue is resolved. In order for the application to work, enable or turn on the GPS on the phone and be in Highland Village.

We are still closely monitoring transportation issues and road projects. After a week of night pouring on FM 407, that project is nearing completion.

We are still monitoring the updates on the future expansion of I-35E. We are told the construction can begin as early as this summer, with the construction of a new bridge over Lake Lewisville likely to be one of the first projects. When that construction begins we will lose the use of Copperas Branch Park.

When Phase 1 is completed, the I-35E service road will no longer be two-way. Southbound travelers will be able to exit and access Highland Village Road, but northbound travelers will have to use FM 407 or Garden Ridge. Complete access to Highland Village Road from I-35 is addressed in Phase 2 construction of I-35E.

Our message to Highland Village’s legislators was to make sure the funding is available to complete Phase II. We understand there is some inconvenience on the road to progress; but we cannot allow our community to be permanently impacted in this way and will be communicating our concerns with our legislators. I encourage our residents to visit the TxDOT website at www.txdot.gov, keyword I-35E for up to date information. We will also keep you informed on information TxDOT provides us through our city website, Facebook page and our City Manager’s Blog.

Finally, I hope you’ll mark your calendar and join us as we “Celebrate Highland Village” on Saturday, June 1. City staff is planning a 1k/5k walk/run and the family fish out at Unity Park in the morning. Later that evening we’ll be at Pilot Knoll Park with music by Eleven Hundred Springs, food, drink, activities for the kids, and we’ll finish off the night with a spectacular fireworks extravaganza.

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve the residents of Highland Village. I look forward to seeing you around Highland Village!

 

 

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