In the next few years, a longtime draw for Flower Mound residents enjoying a bit of fishing or a walk along the edges of a pond will likely receive major upgrades. Named for longtime resident and former mayor Bob Rheudasil, Rhuedasil Park is part of a 945-acre integrated park system and is also part of the Purple Coneflower Trail which is used by bicyclists, walkers, skaters and others.
On Monday, council members approved a park master plan for Rheudasil Park, one of the most heavily-used parks in the community, after hearing a report from Freese & Nichols, a company hired to draft the master plan as well as a plan for pond dredging and bank stabilization.
Rebecca Pittman, a landscape architect with Freese & Nichols, outlined the master plan for town officials.
“Over time, because of the existing trees around the pond, the roots have grown,” she said, causing issues with the sidewalk surrounding the large pond.
The first stage would be dredging and bank restoration. Park upgrades could include restrooms, new sidewalks, picnic tables, a pavilion, benches, security lighting, new playground equipment, re-striping the basketball court, adding goals and more.
Freese & Nichols outlined two options – one for revitalizing existing park facilities at a cost of just over $989,000 and another starting from scratch with new facilities at cost of $1.65 million.
Pond dredging to remove sediment and improve the water quality to support aquatic life was also discussed with Freese & Nichols indicating the ideal depth is six to 12 feet of water for fish to live. Some issues with the pond dredging is the lack of space to set up around the pond.
Two proposals include hydraulic dredging and mechanical dredging. The cost for hydraulic dredging is just over $4 million; mechanical dredging would cost about $2.7 million.
Three options for bank stabilization included a structural wall at a cost of $918,000; use of articulated concrete blocks at a cost of $999,900; and use of a specialized revetment mat to stabilize the grass until it grows in solidly to prevent erosion at a cost of $468,400.
Current town officials started the process of reviewing existing parks including Twin Coves, Rheudasil and Heritage East in July. Talks of the need for pond dredging started in 2001 but was put on hold in 2004 and eventually dropped from the capital improvements project list, town officials said. The last time the large pond at Rheudasil Park was dredged was in 1989 at a cost of between $10,000 and $12,000.
The Parks, Arts and Library Services Board recommended the council approve the mechanical dredging and bank revetment plan as well as the park restoration on Nov. 6 for a total project cost of just over $4.36 million.
“I was looking for a paper bag when I saw the cost, because I started hyperventilating,” said Mayor Tom Hayden, who then asked: “How imperative is it that we do the dredging?”
Freese & Nichols officials said it depends on what the council wants. Dredging would be important for water quality and aquatic life. For aesthetic purposes, the park is fine as it is.
Council member Michael Walker asked about partial dredging. Freese & Nichols officials said draining the pond and relocating existing fish would have to be done, which would not make it cost effective to only partially dredge the pond.
Council member Steve Dixon asked about the need for a $30,000 flood study. Freese & Nichols explained that Federal Emergency Management Agency requires the study if construction occurs in a flood plain area.
Dixon said photos have shown the bank areas have eroded over the years. He asked about whether banks could be restored. The response was that federal regulations would require removing areas from another portion of the pond to restore the bank in another area.
Dixon indicated that he preferred a vertical wall for the bank stabilization to allow for more land space, mechanical dredging and the park restoration.
“If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right,” Dixon said. “This is one of the most highly utilized parks in Flower Mound. … I don’t have a problem spending the money.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jean Levenick said she was concerned that discussions in June ranged around $1.6 million.
“I don’t know how we got to over $4 million,” she said.
Hayden suggested the council decide which master plan it preferred and to ask for additional estimates from town staff on costs for dredging and bank stabilization.
“I don’t think we have $3 or $4 million dollars to do the dredging at this time,” Hayden said. “In a perfect world, we’d love to have a great place for kids to fish.”
He summed the issue with whether the town was looking for a reflective pool or a pond to support aquatic life.
“There’s some sticker shock,” Walker said, agreeing with the need for additional options before making a decision on dredging.
The town approved master plan B, which called for total restoration and asking for town staff to return in several months with cost estimates on dredging and bank stabilization as well as funding options.
Town officials also heard an update on the phasing of Heritage Park, which would be built in four phases for an estimated cost of between $4.8 million to $5.2 million.
Heritage Park includes the dog park with separate areas for small and large dogs, parking, a wash station, pavilions, splash pad, demonstration gardens, park trail, 18-hole disc course and more. The first phase is in place and each of the following phases are: $1.6 million for phase two; $1.3 million for phase three; and $1.8 million for phase four.
Phase two is funded, town officials said, with funds outlined for the third and fourth phases.