Lewisville residents got the opportunity at a meeting June 21 to see preliminary ideas for the future Valley Vista Nature Park in southern Lewisville. The nearly 22-acre city-owned tract on the southeast corner of Valley Parkway and Corporate Drive is just across the street from the future home of Lewisville’s Multigenerational Center.
Andrew Duggan, a project leader for studioOutside, the firm consulting with Lewisville Parks on the project, facilitated most of the well-attended meeting, showing attendees a slideshow of ideas for the park.
Construction for the planned multigenerational center begins soon, so the city wants to begin the master plan for the new nature park right away.
Duggan said that the city will apply for a grant that would pay for half of the project’s cost. According to parks director Stacie Anaya, the city would pursue a $500,000 grant through Texas Parks and Wildlife’s local grant program. If awarded, the grant would require a $500,000 match from the city.
The city would submit the grant application in October, and possibly have results by March 2019. Timing of eventual construction would depend on that grant and/or future action by the City Council to fund it in a budget.
The proposed nature park would compliment the design of the multigenerational center, according to Duggan. He said the design would work to connect the two properties.
The Valley Vista site is heavily wooded, but in the past had several residences on it. It had been purchased a decade ago by a company planning to drill for natural gas on it, but was later bought by the city in 2014 after that company abandoned its plans.
Elements of post oak and pocket prairie savannah, hillside glen, forested bluff, lower draws and manicured meadow define the land, along with a Timber Creek tributary along the southeast diagonal.
The preliminary design of the park’s trails and destinations take the sensitivity and topography into account, placing larger concrete perimeter and loop trails to the outside, along the northern, western and eastern edges, going into the pocket prairie and meadow areas, and a Nature Discovery Area.
Further inside, smaller trails of crushed stone lead to nature nodes, where a visitor could pause to enjoy a point of inspiration or natural feature. Even further inside, those trails would connect to more primitive trails of crushed stone or mulch where visitors could delve deeper into the woods or even approach the riparian environment of the creek.
The Nature Discovery Area is envisioned with features such as a log climb, stump jump, rope tunnel ladder, bug hotel and other features that might be appealing and inviting to young people, as well as trail connections, a covered seating zone, and places to observe. The area would be fully accessible and provide connections to the trails.
A mid-block crossing on Valley Parkway would have pedestrians walk parallel with traffic for a small distance on a path in the center median, promoting safety by forcing pedestrians to watch oncoming traffic before crossing the far-side lanes.
At the meeting, attendees were asked to place colored stickers on posters hung around the room showing features that they liked more, or didn’t care for. Planners will use that input for further design work.
After the presentation and feedback session, attendees took a brief walking tour of the property.
Anaya said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout, and enjoyed the dialogue with attendees. “I think most of the feedback was in line with what we’ve heard in previous meetings and confirmed we’re heading in the right direction,” Anaya said.
“After listening to most of the comments, I know that we are going to have to do a good job of creating interpretive signage that does not overwhelm or takeaway from the site but provides enough information to help people understand what the park is all about. That’s the fun part of park design though!”
Lewisville City Council member TJ Gilmore attended the meeting, and expressed support.
“I’m excited that this park will give us an opportunity to expand the types of experiences previously limited to LLELA into the center of our residential neighborhoods,” Gilmore said.
Carol Tomkovich, a resident of the neighborhood bordering the property, said it was the first time she had seen the plans for the new park.
“The main thing I was looking for were walking paths, so I was glad to see several levels of paths as you go farther into the woods,” Tomkovich said. “The interior paths should be mostly shaded which is good for those like myself who don’t appreciate the sun beating down on them.”
Tomkovich was also concerned about a steep cliff near the creek, and hoped the city would put a fence there to keep kids from falling down the embankment, but said she trusted the city’s judgment.
“Overall I’m very happy with the plans. Pretty much what I was hoping for – lot of paths and benches etc,” Tomkovich said.
“I definitely think it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.”