The Rowlett City Council discussed the development plans for the Dan Roberts Environmental Learning Center (DRELC) at a recent meeting.
This project is a joint effort between the city and Keep Rowlett Beautiful and was proposed into development 22 years ago. The Environmental Learning Center would be located between two neighborhoods and two schools with the goal to facilitate sustainable ideas with a focus on Texas ecologies.
“This is a hands-on learning environment and very engaging for visitors. Imagine kids might come here on a school group field trip and then go back home and tell their parents or grandparents, ‘Hey let’s go back to the Dan Robert’s center on the weekend for a cool exhibit,’” said Andrew Duggan, Studio Outside architect. “It’s that multi-generational connection point that we found starts to build that sense of stewardship and reinforces the educational roots.”
The outside area itself would be divided into three sections to elaborate on the different Texas ecologies. The concept of water structures would also be included into the design to promote water education. There would be three buildings located on the site including a multi-purpose building, a corporate office building and a building designed for classrooms.
“We have had one meeting with a fundraiser consultant, and he’s a Rowlett resident and well known in the fundraising world, and we’re happy to have a level of professionalism to guide us and help put together a fundraiser strategy,” Councilwoman Martha Brown said. “Our research begins in earnest now to see what opportunities are out there in the way of grants, foundation, corporate donations to be able to tap into.”
The proposed plan is estimated to cost $9.8 million in investments and would be created over time through phases of developments. The development members met in September for a workshop meeting and held a public meeting for citizens' input.
“If we’re able to build it to completion, it will be the best environmental learning center in DFW. The inspiration reminds me of the aboretum, but more natural,” Councilman Matt Grubisich said. “If we brought this to Rowlett, we would continue to step up our game and it would put us on the map.”
Council members approved the designed site plan with phasing efforts still under development. This development has combined efforts of Rowlett City Council, Keep Rowlett Beautiful and Garland ISD. In 2018, KRB donated $50,000 in funds for the project to begin in hopes of preparing the next generation in environmental resources.
“The DRELC will be a place for nature education while setting high conservation and sustainability standards and raising a strong sense of community service for future generations,” Keep Rowlett Beautiful President Mark Engen said. “It will be a place for people of all ages can explore, learn, share and celebrate nature. Our board members have a strong commitment to making this an active outdoor learning environment.”