National Parks month has started with a bang in Celina.
Or rather, a cut.
Early July 10, residents and city officials gathered among the city’s mint condition synthetic turf baseball and softball fields to commemorate an official grand opening for the Old Celina Park expansion project.
The ceremony came after a roughly year-long effort that resulted in four new synthetic turf baseball/softball fields, expanded grass multisport playing fields, a new concessions area, expanded walking trails and nearly 400 new parking spaces. The project resulted in facilities that allow for year-round usability.
“That was something that we really heard loud and clearly from the community,” Mayor Sean Terry told the Celina Record. “We went through some years around here like everybody did where it rained and everything kind of got canceled for the season. A whole baseball season got lost, pretty much. And so this way, this would allow us to be able to play on those fields year round and program them so kids can have access to them all the time.”
Three days later, the Celina City Council approved starting design on what Terry calls “Phase 2B” for Old Celina Park. The approval added an amendment to a May 12 agreement for design services for Old Celina Park Playground to add a spray fountain water feature, a multipurpose sport court and a playground expansion. The original scope of the agreement included an all-inclusive playscape, a 2-to-5-year-old play unit and other features including the relocation of the existing volleyball court, according to city documents.
As Terry put it, “Phase 2A” for the park, which has been designed, includes swing sets and a splash pad while phase 2B, which will soon go into design, will provide for more equipment to include all ages of children.
“We’re really working on upgrading that facility so it does have more playground stuff and kid stuff,” Terry said. “We’re basically taking off of the surveys we’ve done of what do people want to see, and that’s what we’re implementing those changes out there.”
Based on surveys the city has done, parks remain a high priority for Celina residents, Terry said.
“We’ve really made a commitment on the parks side of it to acquire as much park land as we can in the right places,” Terry said. “Talking to the Friscos and the McKinneys over the last 10 years, they always say ‘I wish we would have had a little more land,’ and so we’ve really made it a commitment.”
The city is trying to find 100-acre parcels of land to use for future park space, he said. As Celina faces future growth, the city is eyeing future park projects.
“We want these strategically placed throughout the city because we are such a big landmass, we want to make sure that we have defined areas that have big enough parks to where those citizens in that area will have a park to go to,” Terry said.
He added that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year showed open space is critical for communities.
He mentioned things like pocket parks and open space dedications that will help the city achieve its open space goals. Added to that is the city’s vision for walking trail connectivity.
“When Celina’s totally built out, I think we’ll be probably the only city in Texas that has the most connectivity in a community our size,” Terry said.
That vision extends beyond Celina boundaries. Terry said the city has talked to nearby entities like Prosper, Aubrey and Gunter about how they could eventually connect through walking trails.
Of course, that won’t happen overnight, he added. But the vision is there.
“We’ve spent a lot of money in making sure our parks are right. We’ve spent a lot of time listening to the community of what they want, and I think now we’re just putting that on paper as we go to continue growing our parks,” Terry said. “So it’s exciting times right now.”