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Bond Monies Putting New Shine on Texas State Parks
AUSTIN – Visitors trekking to dozens of Texas state parks to take advantage of pleasant spring weather will find new restrooms, revamped playgrounds and campgrounds, and a host of other park upgrades resulting from millions of dollars in completed and ongoing capital repair projects begun last year.
Through February, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had spent almost $18 million on a variety of park improvements funded with bond monies approved by the state’s electorate several years ago and appropriated by the Texas Legislature in previous sessions.
More than $3 million in bond-funded repairs at Garner State Park is giving a long-awaited facelift to many of the Texas State Park system’s overnight camping leader’s bathrooms, 17 historic cabins, screen shelters and other infrastructure. Complete remodeling is being done on 22 shelters with 11 fitted to ADA standards, including ADA-accessible walkways.
“The cabins are in full swing with all having been reroofed, rotted and damaged wood is being replaced and contractors are scheduled to start with electrical, plumbing and HVAC work in April,” says park superintendent Rick Meyers. “We are looking at reopening cabins in May 2012.”
Thus far, he notes, construction crews have completed repairs to the Live Oak Campground’s electrical and water system and installed a new water system in Pecan Grove. At Rock Beach, Restroom #10 has been demolished and will be replaced by a new facility with dressing rooms and ADA accessibility. Construction should be complete by early summer.
In all, statewide, 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 FY08-FY09 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. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
A number of capital repair bond projects address the most-cited concern in a recent Texas state park visitor study: aging and deteriorating bathrooms in state park campgrounds and cabins, according to TPWD Infrastructure Division deputy director Scott Stover, who is overseeing the massive state park capital repair program. Other projects are helping bring state park facilities into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.
At Brazos Bend State Park, for example, work crews are installing new plumbing fixtures in the park’s 30-year-old restrooms and making them ADA compliant as part of a $419,000 bond project. ADA upgrades to the recreation hall and screen shelter area already have been completed as part of Lake Whitney State Park’s $2.5 million in capital repairs.
At Bastrop State Park, TPWD has budgeted well over $3.3 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, all structures built by the CCC more than 60 years ago.
At Cleburne State Park south of Fort Worth, a $2.79 million bond project means groups will soon be able to stay in two new, air-conditioned and heated dorm-style barracks separated by a breezeway that feature 44 bunk beds, lockers and his-and-hers bathrooms. Renovations to the group area dining hall, which will have a fully equipped kitchen, seating for 75 and a covered back porch for diners to catch a breeze, are nearing final completion.
In addition, Cleburne Superintendent Collis Park says he’s excited that summertime visitors will be able to enjoy a new concession building, bathhouse/restroom, outdoor patio and beach at popular Cedar Lake. “Having a new restroom will be a wonderful asset. We’ve been using the two restrooms in the park for years and they’ve been getting hammered.”
Stover expects the majority of the current slate of state park repair projects to be completed by the end of this summer.
TPWD also has begun scheduling a new round of state park capital repairs with funding from the sale of the previous voter-supported state park bonds. The Legislative Budget Board and other state bonding agencies last year approved the issuance of $38 million in general obligation bonds for FY10-11 to fund repair needs at 27 state parks, as well as fish hatcheries, wildlife management areas and support infrastructure.
Scott says that so far, 76 percent, or $28.9 million, has been allocated for state park repair projects, though the list of scheduled repairs is subject to change depending on priorities and other budgetary factors, he said. The remaining funding has been allocated to repair projects at other TPWD facilities.
For images of park repairs, visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=state_park_improvements_and_repairs
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