When Mayor Jeff Cheney first went for a Frisco City Council seat in 2007, he ran in part because he wanted to work on the development of Grand Park.
“And here we are almost 15 years later and still have not broken ground,” Cheney said. “So we understand our residents' frustration and maybe starting to believe that it was never going to happen.”
However, Cheney contends that now that the city has overcome what he calls the project's biggest hurdle, plans for Frisco’s elusive park located along the Dallas North Tollway and north of Stonebrook Parkway are “full steam ahead.”
In October, the city of Frisco through a settlement got ownership of the remaining 102 acres of the Exide property in an agreement that allowed the city to gain control of both the property and a $29 million cleanup process at the site of a former battery recycling plant, giving the city the green light to “finally finally finally” begin work on Grand Park, as Cheney put it at the time.
The settlement came after a timeline that included multiple bankruptcies for Exide and coordination with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, culminating into roughly 10 years of negotiations.
“Now that that is behind us, we can actually start giving some realistic expectations to our residents without being hampered by that,” Cheney told The Frisco Enterprise on Thursday.
The park’s master plan ended up on the city’s top 10 priority list for this year, right alongside a performing arts center and entertainment destinations. Cheney said the city is gearing up to interview potential park designers, and master planning is expected to start the second half of this year, he said.
Cheney said development on the park could begin as early as next year without being impacted by the cleanup process on the former Exide site. A “phase one” of the project could likely include figuring out water elements, and working on trail connectivity would also probably be part of the first portion of the project.
“This is going to be the heart of our city, I mean, literally located in prime real estate, right in the bull's eye of the center of Frisco,” Cheney said, “and then the trail network is going to take you out, those are going to be the arteries and are going to take you out to all the different other parts of our city.”
He mentioned such local landmarks as Lewisville Lake, the PGA of America headquarters and the Star in Frisco.
Over time, the vision for Grand Park has expanded from roughly 350 acres to over 1,000, including trail networking, meaning the park will essentially be bigger than Central Park in New York City.
Now that the city has jumped over the largest hurdle of settling on the former Exide site, Cheney communicates an optimistic outlook when it comes to the future of Grand Park.
“In my opinion, 20 years from now, when people think of Frisco with all the great things that are here, this will be number one on the list as far as why people love living in Frisco and love visiting Frisco,” he said.
To sum it up, Cheney said, the vision for Grand Park is to make something that will live up to the name it was given over a decade ago. While he jokingly calls the project “the urban legend of Frisco” given the extended trench of time between initial plans and actual creation, Cheney points out that the park wouldn’t even be a possibility today were it not for that vision from years ago.
“Because the land was able to be acquired at a time when the city could afford it,” Cheney said. “If we were trying to acquire this magnitude of land right now, this project would not be a reality. The prices would be too expensive. So the fact that there was a vision so long ago is why it's going to happen.”