Improvements are coming to Gassaway Park as part of a multiyear revitalization plan for what one city councilman calls a "hidden jewel."
Gassaway Park is in a neighborhood near Charlotte Drive and Shady Trail Drive on the west side of West Gentry Parkway, behind Posados Cafe and across from the Caldwell Zoo.
“This park has been a hidden jewel in the community,” Councilman Ed Moore, who represents the area, told the City Council at its Wednesday meeting. “A lot of people are not aware of it.”
The park has a split-level setup with playground equipment on the lower level surrounded by homes with backyards facing the park. The lower level is largely out of sight from the hill on the top level.
Neighbors said young people would drive cars to the lower level, where it was hard for police officers to see them, and blast music and smoke marijuana while their headlights shined into backyards.
At the meeting Wednesday, the Tyler City Council approved spending about $168,000 on improvements to the parking lot, sidewalk and drainage and to install a half-court basketball court. The contract will go to Garrett and Associates General Contractors Ltd. of Whitehouse.
“There is no park in that area, that quadrant, and we just want the kids to not have to cross major intersections to get to a park, and so this one is to get the basic needs of the park in there and then we’ll do additional park improvements as funding comes in,” said Russ Jackson, the director of parks and recreation.
In the past several months, he said the city has taken out old playground equipment and planted trees in its place. He said the concrete work is the next step in revitalization, and likely would be done around August.
Jackson said his staff received a $25,000 grant last year for playground equipment and has applied for $100,000 in grants to put in a slide, swings and other play equipment.
When the trees get bigger, he said the city would carve out a walking trail between them. The park also will need restrooms on the upper level at some point, he said. Picnic benches are another potential amenity.
“It could still take a two or three years from now” until all of those things are complete, Jackson said.
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