The Colony rec center

The most-requested item on a resident survey this year was a new recreation center.

The Colony City Council on Tuesday adopted the Community Development and Parks Master Plan.

The plan, which was last updated in 2009, gives the city an idea of which amenities residents want most.

But how to fund the most requested item is as unclear as it's been for years.

As part of the master plan process, MHS Planning and Design conducted a citizen survey to garner feedback on the state of the city's amenities.

The most requested item from the survey was a new multi-generation recreation center. While the survey noted views on the city's strengths – wide range of amenities, trail connectivity and parks maintenance – it also noted areas of improvement. Atop the list was lack of indoor recreational space.

“We heard that a lot,” said Hunter Rush, senior planner of MHS. “People are traveling to other communities.”

According to the survey, 49 percent of residents said the current rec center doesn't meet the current needs, and 37 percent were neutral on the question. But 74 percent said it won't meet the community's needs in 10 years.

Sixty-seven percent agreed or strongly agreed that municipal bonds, paid through increased tax revenues, should be used to help fund new or expanded multi-generation or other types of indoor recreation facilities.

As part of the master plan update, MHS came up with a list of recommendations. Those include a multi-generation rec center, develop undeveloped park land, trail development and connections, enhance athletic facilities, park upgrades, playground replacement and erosion improvements.

Councilman Kirk Mikulec stressed the need for the rec center. He said the current center is 32 years old and said he can say from experience the facility needs to be replaced.

“We're doing some cool stuff in The Colony, but we're behind on the rec center,” Mikulec said. “That's a fact. I'd really like to look to see if we can find a way to pay for that.”

Mikulec said residents ask him constantly when the city will construction a new center.

“This is my fifth term on the council, and we're not getting any closer,” Mikulec said.

Mayor Joe McCourry said he's not against a new rec center but asked how it's going to be funded. He noted the reduction in state revenue from the past Legislature, plus ongoing projects in the city, such as a wastewater treatment plant and a new fire station with staffing.

“How we continue to pay for that with less revenue is a big concern,” McCourry said.

McCourry said the last cost estimate he saw for a rec center was $50 million to $60 million, though city staff project the cost to be between $30 million to $35 million. 

“What about the other things?” McCourry said. “It's $50 million for us to complete the wastewater treatment plant. Where do we pay for all of that with less revenue?”

Mikulec said the city put The Colony Five Star Complex up to a general obligation bond vote and suggested possibly doing that for a rec center.

“We've found some innovative ways to do a lot of cool stuff here,” Mikulec said. “I'd like to see some of that thinking applied to that.”

McCourry said that would mean a tax increase.

Other top-requested items from the survey included a splash park, which is in design, more multi-use paved trails, nature trails and restrooms.

Rush presented a priority list, which he said is a culmination of the survey,  as well as input from focus groups, neighborhoods, staff and the Community Development Corporation.

Atop the list was multi-use concrete and nature trails, followed by splash pad, the rec center, site amenities and open water amenities, such as kayak launches and paddling trails.

Rush presented a rough schedule for the projects. Included in the 2019-2023 time frame are development of Park Loop Trail along the Oncor easement, construction of a splash pad, replace soccer field playgrounds at Five Star, develop West Shore Park, replace the playground at Bill Allen Memorial Park and update and enhance Stewart Creek Park.

A feasibility study to determine if the rec center makes sense at Five Star or somewhere else is included in 2019-2023, though construction is tentatively listed for 2024-2026.

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