Brian and Amanda Light have transformed the historic Downtown Bryan Ice House from a vacant building into a lively, bustling farm-to-table restaurant that has become a go-to spot for entertainment. That’s why the Lights, owners of Ronin Restaurant, were honored with the 2019 Mayor’s Downtown Impact Award.
A whole new park, two new playgrounds, a bridge over a creek in a park, ballfield renovations and lighting upgrades are just a few of the projects planned for Bryan’s parks in Fiscal Year 2020 – evidence of the city’s continued commitment to retaining and maintaining parkland in the city over the last several years.
Each year since 2016, the Bryan City Council has allocated Parks Improvement Program (PIP) funding, which goes directly toward repairing and improving parks and recreational amenities in Bryan. Since then, nearly every park in the city has seen capital improvements in some form. Additional funding for park improvements comes from development fees from new construction, and in FY20 funds were approved from Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZ).
Since 2016, when the city adopted its Parks Master Plan, Bryan has invested approximately $8.4 million on park improvements. This includes opening Siena Estates Park, repairing the ballfields at Sam Rayburn and Sadie Thomas parks, replacing the pavilions at Williamson Park, replacing or repairing the play structures at Castle Heights, Austin’s Colony and Neal parks, replacing dozens of water fountains at various parks and renovating the turf at Villa West Park and Austin’s Colony Park, just to name a few. Additionally, at the Bryan Regional Athletic Complex, the city heavily invested in improvements such as replacing the scoreboards and soccer bleachers and repairing the driveway, volleyball areas and fencing surrounding the softball fields.
How does the city decide on what improvements are completed each year? According to Parks & Recreation Director Linda Cornelius, it’s through a systematic process of evaluation. Each year, staff members inspect each one of the city’s 55 parks to identify needed improvements. Then, staff members prioritize items that will improve the safety or accessibility of the city’s parks.
After adding more than 114 acres of parkland over the last three years, the Parks & Recreation staff now maintains more than 700 acres of parkland – performing smaller repairs, weekly mowing and cleaning multiple times per week with the help of third-party landscaping and janitorial contracts. With that much to take care of, staff members also appreciate when residents alert them of things that need attention. The best way to do so is by calling 979.209.5900 or reporting it online to https://docs.bryantx.gov/helpbryan/
In September, the City Council also moved forward with plans for the first phase of the Travis B. Bryan Regional Park at the location of the former municipal golf course on Villa Maria Road. Based on feedback from more than 1,400 residents, the Council hopes to achieve a balance of developed and undeveloped land to allow for green space, athletics, events and entertainment.
The park plans include a large greenbelt in the center of the park, walking paths, a great lawn, outdoor amphitheater, renovations to and expansion of the lake, an indoor sports and event center and outdoor multi-use sports fields – all of which will be available for tournaments, leagues and recreational community play.
And there’s more to come. This coming year, more than $1 million is budgeted for major improvements to existing parks, including the following projects:
- Replacing the playground at Sue Haswell Park
- Building a trail connection and bridge over the creek at Camelot Park
- Constructing a new playground at Camelot Park
- Completing the new Edgewater Park
- Removing the fencing, light fixtures and poles from the old ballfields and replacing them with open play and backstops at Henderson Park
- Replacing the playground closest to the pavilion at Henderson Park
- Changing lighting to LED lights at Henderson Park, Neal Park, Washington Park and the Bryan Regional Athletic Complex
- Upgrading the facilities at the Bryan Aquatic Center to meet ADA requirements, including the restroom, drinking fountains, entry gate and parking areas
By reinvesting in its parks system, the City of Bryan is demonstrating the value of parks and its commitment to a high quality of life through recreational amenities. A full listing of each park and trail in the city is available at bryantx.gov/parks.