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Spring Brings Host of Texas State Parks Repair Projects
AUSTIN — Texas state park visitors will soon be benefitting from a full slate of major repair projects getting under way this year that are designed to rejuvenate the aging Texas state park system and greatly improve customer service, thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters.
General obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $69 million in repairs and renovations to state park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. The majority of the funding ($44 million) for the various repair projects at more than 40 state parks comes from the sale of Proposition 4 general obligation bonds which were overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2007 to fix up parks. The Legislature also approved the sale of $25 million in bonds to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
While the dry berthing of the battleship isn’t expected for a few years, state park capital repair projects have already been completed or are under way at such places as Goliad and Sheldon Lake state parks. And dozens of other projects — from the West Texas mountains to the East Texas piney woods — have contractors in place and await launch.
"We are grateful to the Legislature for providing the funding needed to ensure that our state parks are getting better all the time," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "I ask our park customers to please pardon our dust while repairs are underway to make future visits more comfortable and enjoyable."
Several park projects, such as extensive renovations to Civilian Conservation Corps-built structures dating to the 1930s and replacement of decades-old plumbing at Bastrop and Buescher state parks, will be more noticeable than others once construction is completed. Park visitors will find other improvements to water and wastewater systems, plumbing and electrical grids less obvious, but such big-ticket projects are nonetheless critical for visitor comfort and safety. Still other projects at Cedar Hill, Huntsville and Lake Whitney state parks, to name a few, will bring restrooms and other facilities into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Some capital repair projects will address the most-cited concern among Texas state park visitors: aging and deteriorating bathrooms in state park campgrounds and cabins. So says Scott Stover, deputy director of TPWD’s Infrastructure Division, who is overseeing the massive state park capital repair program that is being implemented under a new, streamlined system that groups projects regionally to increase efficiency.
TPWD has budgeted well over $1 million dollars to replace deteriorating galvanized plumbing in six of the historic cabins, replacement of electrical systems in the recreation hall and general improvements at the golf pro shop at Bastrop State Park, all structures built by the CCC more than 60 years ago. A $395,000 project at Brazos Bend State Park calls for installing new plumbing fixtures in 30 year-old restrooms and making them ADA compliant.
The restrooms at popular Lake Casa Blanca State Park in Laredo, too, have seen better days. Work crews will be replacing worn out comfort stations with five new prototypical restroom structures.
Daingerfield State Park in northeast Texas will benefit from more $4 million in renovation projects. The park’s 75-year-old Bass Lodge, concession building and boat house will undergo extensive renovations. In addition, the park’s existing restrooms will be replaced with new facilities and made ADA-compliant, and the park’s wastewater system will be replaced.
Visitors to the state’s perennial overnight camping leader, Garner State Park, will soon see the results of extensive repairs to screened shelters in the Oakmont and River Crossing campgrounds and replacement of a non-compliant comfort station in the Oakmont area. In addition, the park’s 17 CCC-era cabins currently are being renovated.
Four of TPWD’s historic sites will see much-needed improvements, as well.
In east Texas at Mission Tejas State Historic Site, the fire-damaged headquarters will be demolished and removed, and existing restroom in the picnic/day use area and campgrounds will be renovated. More than $1 million in wastewater treatment system replacement and repairs are slated at San Jacinto Battlegrounds.
At Longhorn Cavern, workers will be replacing the old cavern lighting system originally installed in 1938 along 6,000 feet of passages. The total cost of the repairs is estimated at more than $700,000.
TPWD construction crews already have repaired and repainted historic structures at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site near Stonewall, and are renovating the Danz log cabins and will soon start on making the park’s visitors center, bath house and comfort stations ADA-compliant.
Stover expects all state park repair projects to be completed by the end of next summer. In the meantime, he notes, TPWD recently received Legislative Budget Board and other state bonding agency approvals of $38 million in planned FY10-11 general obligation bond projects that will address other repair needs at state parks, fish hatcheries, wildlife management areas and support infrastructure.
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