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Council approves new plan for city parks

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    A new playground was installed in Elgin Memorial Park in fall 2020, among other upgrades. File photo

Elgin has a new comprehensive plan to guide the improvement and expansion of the city’s park system over the next ten years.

During the October 12 Elgin City Council meeting, Elizabeth Marzec, program manager for the Elgin Parks & Recreation Department, presented the new Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan for 2021 through 2031 The presentation gave the council an overview of the document.

The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board has been working on the master plan for the past 18 months. The 328-page document sets a strategic direction for development and management of the Elgin park system over the next ten years. The plan documents the board’s work in identifying needs in Elgin, gathering feedback from the community and researching solutions.

In order to maintain diverse, equitable and inclusive parks that address Elginites’ needs and desires, the parks advisory board sought feedback from residents both through online and in-person surveys. After priorities were identified and weighed against current park resources, a list of potential park improvements were used to make community input boards that the public could vote for the projects they most want to see. These input boards were available at the Elgin Recreation Center, displayed at events such as Sip, Shop & Stroll and taken to places such as Down Home Ranch.

The board also reviewed national standards and recreations for the amount of parkland and amenities recommended for a given population, which is a critical consideration given the number of new houses coming to Elgin, Marzec pointed out.

After careful consideration, the parks advisory board identified the following priorities:

  • Land acquisition for new neighborhoods in the west and south
  • Splash pads or interactive water features
  • A connected system of trails throughout Elgin
  • Better restroom facilities
  • Improved walking and jogging tracks
  • Public art
  • An off-leash dog park
  • A skate park
  • An improved water run-off system in Morris Memorial Park

“In summary, the Parks Advisory Board has created this document to maintain existing park amenities, improve existing parks and facilities, build and develop new trails, parks and open space, and enhance our operations,” Marzec said.

After the presentation and discussion, the council voted to approve the master plan.

“Spending money on parks and related areas is not is not wasteful money,” Elgin Mayor Ron Ramirez said. “When you move to a community, one of the things you look at is, ‘Where can I walk, where can I jog, where can I swim, where can I take my kids?’ It's something that people look at as they’re moving into Elgin. Also, the citizens that live here want the same thing.”

The Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan 2021-2031 can be read online at The entire October 12 Elgin City Council meeting can be viewed on the City of Elgin - Texas YouTube channel; the presentation of the park master plan begins at 58:00.


Council updated on CO project progress

Also at the October 12 meeting, City manager Thomas Mattis provided an update to the city council about the various infrastructure projects associated with the previously-approved and upcoming proposed certificates of obligation.

The city council voted to proceed with a second round of certificates of obligation (COs) in September, titled 2021A. The council will give a final vote on the 2021A COs on November 16.

Mattis said many of the projects in the proposed 2021A COs could start during the first part of 2022. For example, the first phase of the County Line Road upgrade could take about a year or more to complete, so if the project is bid out in January, it could be complete by the time school is out the following year. 

Other projects include downtown sidewalk revitalization, Thomas Park improvements, Veterans Park expansion, police department expansion and renovation, the demolition of the building next to the police station and infrastructure improvements at the Elgin Economic Development Corporation’s business park.

Next, Mattis gave an update on utility infrastructure projects that were funded by the COs approved earlier this year. For example, engineering plans and bidding documents are in development for weatherizing the water treatment plant; the city will have the portable generator by the end of the year, but the million-dollar main generator won’t be ready for this winter due to waiting until January to see if the city receives a grant.


Council looks at potential shelter plans

After the days-long winter storm earlier this year, the council took steps to prepare for the next disaster during the October 12 meeting.

During the winter storm in February, there was discussion about opening the Elgin Recreation Center as a shelter or warming center. Ramirez said the city didn’t open the Rec Center the first night of the winter storm, but were going to open it the second night until the water lines broke and shut down the restrooms.

Council member Skyler Maldonado, who brought the agenda item, cited a gas line that ruptured on West Cleveland Street, forcing an evacuation. The people who lived in that area didn’t have a place to go, but Maldonado, a firefighter, worked with the city to get the Rec Center opened for them.

“It doesn’t always work that easy, but if you have a plan in place, I think it would,” Maldonado said. “So whether it be an event, big or small, fire, the snowvid apocalypse, it’s worth it to get a plan in place for future issues like that.”

Mattis said the city’s agreement with Bastrop County regarding the funding of the Rec Center requires the building to open when the county judge or the state governor declares an emergency; however, that didn’t happen during the winter storm. He added that the city council could choose to declare a city building such as the Rec Center as a shelter.

The council decided to put together a committee to work with city staff to prepare emergency plans and tabled the agenda item.