Highway 6 spans the entire length of Manvel, splitting it into almost two equal parts. Cars easily jet through the city, rarely stopping save the times passersby and residents encounter the stoplights that make an occasional appearance every few miles or so. Many citizens feel Manvel lacks a clear core, a place where residents can come to feel like a community, to spend free time or to enjoy their city.
Cue the Parks and Recreation Board’s master park plan.
Starting May, the Board and natural resource consulting firm Burditt posted a survey on the city’s website for Manvel residents to complete. The survey measured what community members want most in a new park system, specific ideas citizens want to see come to life and the preferred way to fund these projects. Staying open until Aug. 1, 227 Manvelites participated in the survey.
On Wednesday, Aug. 3, the Parks and Recreation Board convened to review and discuss the results of the survey. Led by Burditt Planner and Urban Forester Paul Howard, the conclusion of the results were clear: people need some kind of space to expend energy.
In fact, the study finds Manvel citizens travel an average of 53 miles for recreation. Intercity Houston, Galveston and Angleton were among the most popular places where people choose to spend their free time. The Pearland Town Center was another heavy hitter. Manvel Mayor Delores Martin even remarked that she makes it to the natatorium in Pearland on a regular basis. “It’s beautiful,” Mayor Martin said.
Out of the 227 survey takers, 58.2 percent of participants said they wanted a multipurpose recreation center, ranking such a project the number one priority for Manvel residents. Coming in with second place are off-street trails and bike paths with a 57.3 percent. An outdoor pool or aquatic facility was also highly desired with a 42.7 percent.
The survey isn’t the first time officials have discussed the needs of Manvel with citizens. Community members, city officials, park planners and architects met on June 23 at the Church of the Harvest to begin brainstorming park projects. Coupled with that meeting’s ideas and the survey, Howard and his Burditt team plan on announcing preliminary, albeit concrete, ideas to the Parks and Recreation Board on their next meeting, Sept. 7.
However, funding remains to be an issue. According to Howard, bonds passed by voters is usually the most feasible option for funding community projects. From there, property or sales taxes would most likely be increased to pay back the bond, said City Manager Kyle Jung. According to the survey, an increase in property taxes is the least popular option participants voted for.
“Everybody wants trials and paths. Everybody wants parks and recreation, but nobody wants to pay for it,” Board Member Derek Hehn said.
Federal and state grants can’t be ruled out as a possibility. Although most funding programs favor projects that emphasize integrated education in the natural sciences and eco-friendly designs, the future of Manvel’s parks could easily follow these themes.
Land acquisition is also an immediate concern when planning spaces for recreation. With Manvel being a “city on the rise,” land is rapidly being devoured for residential and consumer areas. Prices for precious acreage continue to skyrocket. “You gotta get the land, period. It’s not a glamorous thing, but eventually there will be park there,” Jung said.
Despite funding and land acquisition obstacles, Howard and his team will begin talking with architects to design actual project plans. The ideas that have been cumulated thus far will soon be given skin and bones. By the end of the month, a list of specific ideas, their costs and approximate land needed for the projects will be ready for review by the Parks and Recreation Board and the public.
The next Parks and Recreation meeting will be Sept. 7 where park and recreation plans will be presented. Agendas are posted 72 hours in advance.
Story by Aiden Park