The council approved receipt of $189,200 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for construction of 3.75 miles of crushed granite trail in addition to a bridge to cross Black Fork Creek on north Broadway Avenue at Woldert Park near Glass Recreation Center. The city will pay $27,300 for its portion of the 80 percent-20 percent match out of its general fund and provide $20,000 in in-kind planning, including engineering and design work.
The trail, about 5 feet in width, will continue from its original concrete path around the lake area. Its construction will be similar to paths in Faulkner Park.
City Councilman Ralph Caraway said the project is a much needed enhancement for the area and he hopes the trail and possible park system will eventually rival other Tyler parks.
“This will enhance the park and bring a much needed improvement that Tyler residents can use,” he said. “We're excited.”
Stephanie Rollings, director of parks and recreation, said the city will begin planning the project now that the council accepted the grant and should break ground on construction phase within three to four months. She said the terms of the grant require the project to be complete by summer 2016, but the city should complete the project ahead of schedule.
The city now expects to begin negotiating easement agreements with neighboring private landowners.
Ed Thompson, of North Chase developments, said he is excited about the project. Thompson envisions a public-private trail and park system that could become a regional destination attraction.
City parks, including Rose Rudman and Bergfeld, have appealing characteristics he would like to see implemented but also wants to find a way to use natural green space for public use.
Thompson owns 180 acres of bottomland he calls “the greenbelt” on which structures cannot be built. But parks, bird sanctuaries, soccer fields and a botanical garden are possibilities. Thompson owns two developments which include more than 560 apartment units near the park and greenbelt area.
The public-private cooperation will benefit residents, the city and enhance future development in the area, he said.
The city also approved purchasing software from Coplogic Inc. to make online police reporting available to the public.
Chief Gary Swindle said the software will allow victims of petty crimes, such as thefts and vandalism, to file incident reports with the department online. He said the software will allow residents to log reports for insurance purposes without waiting for police to respond to calls.
“A lot of these minor incidents are low priority, and it may take an hour for officers to make it to the scene,” he said. “This gives the public the option to file a report 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Swindle said a sergeant will follow up on reports, which might present leads and if more information is needed. He said residents will have the option to speak with officers regarding follow-ups. If leads are found, investigators will be assigned to the case, he said.
The software will make the process more convenient for residents and free up officers to pursue other calls and duties, he said. Last year the department started an email police report program, which was used 174 times, Swindle said. He hopes the software will result in 10 times more use of online police reporting.
The department responds to more than 60,000 calls annually, Swindle said. He said online reporting will save $30 to $42 per case. The software cost $12,500 to install and $10,000 in annual costs.
Swindle said he hopes 1,000 people will use the system in its first year.