HUD allows Arlington to build park

Land currently owned by HUD - courtesy of the city office of communications

On Tuesday evening, the Planning Department held a meeting to accept public input on the possibility of converting the roughly 12 acres located at the northwest corner of Wesley Dr. and north Bowen Rd. into a neighborhood park. Over 60 citizens attended to listen to the proposals and provide feedback.

The meeting began with a brief history of the property. The land was previously occupied by apartments with a high crime rate. They were torn down using federal money. HUD wanted more multi-family housing, but the city negotiated single-family homes for low-income families instead. However, a sour market for new homes made development difficult. HUD then agreed to allow Arlington to build a neighborhood park provided there was community support.

Matt Young, assistant director of the Parks Department, described neighborhood park options and asked for input from the community concerning which features they most wanted.

Using comment cards, attendees indicated their support or opposition to a neighborhood park. Participants also had the opportunity to comment on the positives and negatives of the various options that were presented during the discussion. Each citizen was also given three colored dots that were to be placed next to the three amenities that they most preferred.

Funding for the park through a bond election would occur no earlier than 2017. However, with dollars from the city's gas fund, the city could take action sooner.

The cost of building a neighborhood park averages one million dollars with a parking lot adding several hundred-thousand dollars more. The initial plan by the Parks Department favors on on-street parking on Wesley Dr.

Currently, the city pays for mowing the vacant land. Additional maintenance costs would fall to the Parks Department if a park was created. Before the land can be developed as a park, the property will need to be cleaned up which represents a further cost.

Citizens are encouraged to leave their input on the city website. Public comment will be accepted through February 27. There may be a second public meeting in the near future.

Community leaders and a majority of those in attendance were excited by the possibly of this neighborhood park.